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Full text of "On the trail of negro folk-songs"

On the Trail of 



blk-Songs 



HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 

HOUSTON, TEXAS 






WITH THE BEST WISHES OF 
THE AUTHOR 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/ontrailofnegrofoOOscar 



ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO 



LONDON : HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 



ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO 



FOLK-SONGS 






BY 



DOROTHY SCARBOROUGH 



^Assisted by Ola <£ee Qulledge 




CAMBRIDGE 

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 
1925 



8983? 



R01 157 %030 



COPYRIGHT, I925 
BY HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 



PRINTED AT THE HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., U.S.A. 



TO 

COUSIN BYRON AND NINA 

WITH LOVE 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

I. ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS ..... 3 

II. THE NEGRO'S PART IN TRANSMITTING THE TRA- 
DITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 33 

III. NEGRO BALLADS 63 

IV. DANCE-SONGS, OR "REELS" 96 

V. CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 128 

VI. LULLABIES 144 

VII. SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 161 

VIII. WORK-SONGS 206 

IX. RAILROAD SONGS 238 

X. BLUES 264 



ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO 
FOLK-SONGS 



NOTICE 

Please do not write in this 

book or turn down the pages 



I 

ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO 
FOLK-SONGS 

FOLK-SONGS are shy, elusive things. If you wish to capture 
them, you have to steal up behind them, unbeknownst, and 
sprinkle salt on their tails. Even so, as often as not they fly off 
saucily from under your nose. You have to speak them gently, and 
with magic words, else they will vanish before your ears. You must 
know how to mask your trembling eagerness in their presence, to 
pretend, if need be, that you are deaf and indifferent, to act as if 
vocal music were the last thing in life you ever gave a thought to. 
Folk-songs have to be wooed and coaxed and wheedled with all 
manner of blandishments and flatteries. 

People who sing or hum to themselves hate to be overheard. It is 
as embarrassing as to be caught talking to one's self, and as indig- 
nantly resented; yet if you aspire to be a folk-song collector, you 
must cast aside the niceties of conduct, must shamelessly eavesdrop, 
and ask intrusive questions. 

How often have I overheard alluring snatches of song, only to be 
baffled by denial when I asked for more! Kindly black faces smile 
indulgently as at the vagaries of an imaginative child, when I persist 
in pleading for the rest. "Nawm, honey, I wa'n't singing nothing — 
nothing a-tall! " How often have I been tricked into enthusiasm over 
the promise of folk-songs, only to hear age-worn phonograph rec- 
ords, — but perhaps so changed and worked upon by usage that 
they could possibly claim to be folk-songs after all! — or Broadway 
echoes, or conventional songs by white authors! Yet cajolements 
might be in vain, even though all the time I knew, by the uncanny 
instinct of folk-lorists, that there were folk-songs there. 

How often, when seeking for dance songs, which Negroes call 
"reels," have I been told rebukingly that "sech things was sinful," 
that "wild folks sing reels," but church members must forget them, 
must do as one fat black girl recently converted said she did: "Ah 
devotes mah voice to God!" Such passionate rending of all worldly 
songs from the memory is impressive as an act of piety, but discour- 
aging. Aged colored folk have intimated to me that they have rinsed 
their minds of all such revelry, have so completely put it aside that 



4 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

they have forgotten even that they have forgotten it. But lovely as 
hymns and "spirituals" are in their place, if you are a collector, even 
a pious one, you feel a thrill of despair at hearing a voice, beautiful 
with the quavery sweetness of old age, trembling with unguessed 
traditions, sing Hark from the Tomb, when you had been " honing" 
for Old Virginny Never Tire, or Chicken in de Bread-Tray. You feel 
that puritanism can go a foot too far. Why has nobody ever dis- 
cussed the puritanism among Negroes? 

And even when you get a song started, when you are listening with 
your heart in your ear and the greed of the folk-lorist in your eye, 
you may lose out. If you seem too much interested, the song retreats, 
draws in like a turtle's head, and no amount of coaxing will make it 
venture back. And there is something positively fatal about a pencil ! 
Songs seem to be afraid of lead-poisoning. Or perhaps the pencil is 
secretly attached by a cord (a vocal cord?) to the singer's tongue. It 
must be so, for otherwise, why has it so often happened that when 
I, distrustful of my tricky memory to hold a precious song, have 
sneaked a pencil out to take notes, the tongue has suddenly jerked 
back and refused to wag again? Yet that is not always the case, for 
sometimes the knowledge that his song is being written down in- 
spires a bard with more respect for it and he gives it freely. 

Sometimes shyness increases, and again it grows less, under guile- 
ful persuasion. Some people will confess to acquaintance with folk- 
songs, perhaps the very ones you may at the moment be most ar- 
dently pursuing, yet refuse to sing. They " never could sing," or they 
have quite forgotten how. Their voices have got rusty with disuse, 
or else never have been tuned for song. They are as Harris Dickson 
said he was, when I requested songs of him. "Yes, I know Negro 
songs — but the folks would n't let you print your book if you put in 
it the ones I know. And any way, I can't sing. Got no talent for 
music at all. If I put a nickel in a melodeon, the blamed thing stops 
playing." Or maybe they are like the young girl who was asked by 
Louis Dodge if she could sing. "No, sir, I could n't carry a tune if I 
had it in a bucket with a lid on it." 

In such cases I often explain the difference between pleasure sing- 
ing and singing for science. I dare hint delicately that while it is pos- 
sible that neither the vocalist nor I might derive joy from the singing 
as singing, yet as a folk-lorist I should experience delight at hearing a 
folk-song put across in such way that I could capture it. I urge that 
as a song hunter I should rather hear a Negro in the cornfield or on 
the levee or in a tobacco factory, than to hear Galli-Curci grand- 
operize. I hint that humming a tune will do at a pinch, or even 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 5 

whistling. Funny about whistling ! Some folks who just will not sing 
at all, who could not be induced by torture or persuasion to attempt a 
song, will cheerfully pucker up their lips and whistle an air, while 
others would be far more embarrassed at trying to whistle than to 
sing. Some will pick a tune out on the piano, one slow finger at a 
time, every evidence of pain and strain on their set faces, while still 
others' hands are more bashful than their tongues or lips. Timidity 
strikes different organs, it seems. 

Yet sometimes shyness blossoms into bravery. Persons who pro- 
test that they cannot sing a note, who lift their voices just to prove 
they cannot (and sometimes the proof is pretty conclusive) , who whis- 
pering they will "ne'er consent," consent, sometimes surprise them- 
selves by the result. Maybe they have been teased into singing one 
line to complete an unfinished ballad, but they gather voice and 
courage as they go on; "they look their minds over," as one colored 
woman promised me she would do, and they sing what they discover 
there. Presently it may be that they grow bold to interrupt others 
and correct their tunes ; they insist on singing and quite enjoy the 
exercise. I find that nothing so livens up a party as to start folk- 
singing for science. A programme of vocal music rendered for en- 
tertainment might be listened to with as much patience as politeness 
gives a group ; but let the sorriest singer in the world start a tune for 
a useful purpose and immediately every ear is keen. Soon timid 
guests are wrangling over versions and contending for the chance to 
sing what they know. 

One needs to be pretty much of a detective if he is a successful col- 
lector of folk-songs, for he must be alert to guess the existence of 
songs in any locality or in the mind of any person, and patient to 
trace them down. He needs to be sound in wind and limb and pen. 
(I have waited for years to get certain songs I knew about, and have 
chased some of them half across the South. I have written countless 
letters and made innumerable visits in the course of my investiga- 
tion.) One must know how to piece parts of a song together as a 
scientist joins the bones of discovered fossils. But it is even more 
delicate work, since you may find one bone in Texas, say, one in Vir- 
ginia, and one in Mississippi. No right-thinking tyrannosaurus or 
tetrabeledon would dream of scattering his skeleton over the country 
like that. And his bones would never keep on growing, even if they 
did go on cross-country excursions — while folk-songs delight in 
adding to themselves and collecting parts of other songs that tag 
after them. I think they do it just to tease collectors. I am sure 
folk-songs have their own sense of humor. 



6 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Yes, the seeker of folk-songs must be up and doing, yet he has a 
good time. What game is more fascinating than the study of old 
songs, what adventure more entrancing than to go in search of them? 
And there is no closed season — though if collectors do not hurry up, 
the season will be closed forever as far as many precious old songs are 
concerned. Such an interest adds thrill and suspense to life, sponges 
up loose time that might otherwise be wasted, brings you in touch 
with entertaining people of all kinds, and lends an eager responsive- 
ness to the call of the telephone or the postman. How could you be 
bored when any ring might mean a cordial stranger offering you a 
song? — or any letter a tune you had long yearned for? If weary 
financiers but knew the fun there is in this, they would quit their 
desks to go in search of songs, — or at least they would finance the 
quest for those who crave to get away, — instead of leaving the whole 
job to impecunious college folk and struggling artists. Why does n't 
some far-seeing state vote an appropriation for research as to its own 
songs, before they are permanently lost? Why does n't some mil- 
lionaire endow a chair for folk-songs in some university? Even a 
modest footstool might do to start with. Think of having lively or 
lovely old songs rise up to call you blessed, and to go on giving pleas- 
ure to people long after you yourself have — presumably — started 
singing in other spheres ! 

Personally, I have had so much fun collecting Negro songs that I 
should regard any future deprivation or calamity as merely a matter 
of evening up. It is not fair for one being to have all the fun and en- 
joyment in life. 

I have had this active interest as a collector for about ten years, 
but in reality I suppose I began in my cradle. Both of my grand- 
fathers owned large plantations with many slaves, my Grandfather 
Scarborough in Louisiana and Grandfather Ellison in East Texas, 
and so my parents grew up amid a wealth of Negro folk-lore and 
song, which they passed on to us children. And most of my own life 
has been spent in the South, where I have had opportunity to know 
colored people as a race and as individuals. How many memories of 
my childhood and youth are associated with loved black faces! How 
I enjoyed the songs the Negroes sang, even though I was ignorant of 
their value! If only as I listened I had but learned them accurately, 
or had begun long ago consciously to collect them and record them, I 
should be fortunate now. If I might go back to that time and say, 

Quick thy tablets, memory! 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 7 

If I had realized that I should need to know music to get folk-songs 
later in life, my mother would not have had to hound me to the 
piano to practise, as she did. I wish I had made a study of folk- 
songs then instead of idling over Greek and Latin and other useless 
things — which never appear in proper darky folk-songs ! 

But though I have forgotten much, I have remembered much. My 
past is all mixed up with Negro songs, and I hope to see my future 
similarly entangled. Now when I hear a lawn mower, the sound of it 
brings back the songs that Uncle "Mon" used to sing, as he cut our 
grass; I hear, for example: 

Paul and Silas layin' in jail, 

De ark kep' a-rollin' on; 
Lawd come down an' went deir bail; 

De ark kep' a-rollin' on. 

The ice-cream freezer's droning whirr sings to me now the airs that 
Johnny used to chant while he turned the handle on the kitchen 
steps when company was expected. 





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8 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I went up on the mountain top 

To give my horn a blow; 
An' I thought I heard Miss Lizy say, 

" Yonder comes my beau." 

Chorus 
Po' little Lizy, po' little gal, 

Po' little Lizy Jane! 
Po' little Lizy, po' little gal, 

She died on the train. 

I went into the acre-fieF 

To plant some 'lasses-cane, 
To make a jug of molasses, 

For to sweeten Lizy Jane. 

Chorus 

She went up the valley road, 

An' I went down the lane, 
A-whippin' of my ol' grey mule, 

An' it's good bye, Lizy Jane. 

Chorus. 

Certain songs are always mixed with soapsuds in my mind, for I 
see Susie, yellow, mountainous of bulk, poking clothes in the big iron 
washpot in our back yard on Monday mornings, her voice rising 
higher as the clothes bubbled and leaped. To me there was something 
witch-like in her voice and her use of the long stick in the boiling pot. 

Go tell Aunt Patsy, 
Go tell Aunt Pa-atsy, 
Go tell Aunt Patsy, 

Her old grey goose is dead. 

The one she's been saving, 
The one she's been sa-aving, 
The one she 's been saving 
To make a feather bed. 

Somebody killed it, 
Somebody ki-illed it, 
Somebody killed it, 

Knocked it in the head. 

Susie looked like a feather bed herself. 

Certain songs are inevitably a part of my memory of Aunt Myra, 
the faithful black soul who fed and scolded and bossed me in my 
childhood. She was at once sterner and more indulgent than mother 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 9 

or father, and I both loved and feared her. She had certain songs 
which she sang when she was angry, and I came to know them as 
Aunt Myra's temper songs. 

When I 'm dead an' buried, 

Don't you grieve atter me; 
When I 'm dead an' buried, 

Don't you grieve atter me; 
When I 'm dead an' buried, 

Don't you grieve atter me, 
For I don't want you to grieve atter me. 

When we heard that, we knew she was obliquely reminding us of how 
we should be smitten with sorrow and remorse if she were dead. 

There was Tish, a young girl who worked for us when I was a 
child, a happy-hearted creature always laughing or singing. I recall 
scraps of her song, such as : 

JULY ANN JOHNSON 



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don't dress fine you can't catch a beau. 

July Ann Johnson, 

Don't you know, 
If you don't dress fine 

You can't catch a beau? 

I see a procession of black and yellow and cream-colored faces that 
have passed through our kitchen and house and garden — some very 
impermanent and some remaining for years, but all singing. Now, 
when I sit on a porch at night, I am in fancy back at our old home, 
listening to the mellow, plaintive singing of a Negro congregation at 
a church a half-mile away — a congregation which " ne'er broke up " 
at least before I went to sleep, and which gathered every night in a 
summer-long revival. I can project myself into the past and hear 
the wailful songs at Negro funerals, the shouting songs at baptizings 
in the creek or river, old break-downs at parties, lullabies crooned as 
mammies rocked black or white babies to sleep, work -songs in cotton- 



io NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

field or on the railroad or street-grading jobs. All sounds of human 
activity among the Negroes in the South used to be accompanied 
with song. It is so now to a certain extent, but less than before. 

Even now that I am living in the North I spend a part of every 
year in the South and I eagerly listen for old tunes. 

I began the work of definitely collecting Negro folk-songs about 
ten years ago, when I was for one year president of the Texas Folk- 
lore Association. I had to arrange for the annual programme, and to 
deliver the " presidential address." Some of the previous meetings 
had been sparsely attended and I had promised the organization 
that their sessions in Baylor University, at Waco, should have satis- 
factory audiences. I had to make good on that promise, and I did, 
but it took a lot of tongue- and pen-work. I could not see what would 
be of popular interest if folk-lore was not — and so I told everybody 
I saw that the programmes would be of great interest. I advertised 
the sessions in the news and society columns of our papers, and did 
all I could think of to attract crowds. 

I chose for my subject " Negro Ballets and Reels," and I asked my 
students in Baylor University to help me collect material. Some in- 
sist that I bullied them shamefully, that I insinuated that no one 
who did not bring me folk-stuff would stand a chance of passing on 
the finals. One youth complained recently that he combed the 
Brazos Bottom, and did not dare stop till he had found at least one 
reel for me. 

I myself haunted all sorts of places where Negroes gather for work 
or play. I visited my kitchen acquaintances, offering to help shell 
peas or dry dishes, if I might but listen to songs. I loafed on back 
steps, I hung guilefully over garden fences, I broiled myself beside 
cook stoves, and ironing boards, I stifled in dust on cleaning days — 
asking only that I might hear the songs the workers sang. I visited 
my colored friends and their friends' friends in their homes, begging 
for ballets. 

I started out by describing the scientific nature of my quest, but I 
soon found that did not work well, and so I explained myself as 
merely interested in old songs, not realizing that by that time the 
mischief was done. 

I remember stopping by to talk with a stout ginger-cake woman 
whom I saw rocking easefully on her front porch close by Waco 
Creek one afternoon. I did not know her, but I asked for songs. She 
desired to know why I wanted them. I explained elaborately that I 
liked old songs. 

"What you gwine to do with 'em?" she persisted. 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS II 

"Oh, — er, — remember them, and write them down so I can 
keep them," I parried. 

She gave me a glance of scorn for my subterfuge, as she grunted, 
"You's Miss Dottie Scarber, and that meetin' of yores is on the 
twenty-fust!" 

I had overlooked the fact of my press announcements ! 

But she consented to give me some songs — on condition that I go 
into the house, as she did not wish any church members to pass by 
and hear her singing reels. 

Since various colleges and universities of Texas were to be repre- 
sented on the programme for our meeting, I asked the president of 
Paul Quinn College, a Negro institution in East Waco, if he would 
not send his choral club to sing some of the genuine folk-songs for us. 
On the afternoon of their appearance, the last meeting of the associa- 
tion, the Chapel of Baylor University was filled with people — about 
twenty-five hundred in all. The colored singers came first on the 
programme, and were greeted with such a riot of enthusiasm that it 
seemed as if the remainder of the numbers would be anticlimatic. 
Again and again the club was called back for encores, and it was with 
difficulty that I persuaded the audience to hear the rest of us — and 
only by promising that the singers would come back at intervals 
during the programme. Yes, folk-lore can have popular appeal. 

How often since then have I closed my eyes in memory and heard 
those rich, harmonious voices, with a wild, haunting pathos in their 
tones, singing, 

Keep a-inchin' along, inchin' along, 

Jesus will come bye-an'-bye. 
Keep a-inchin' along like a po' inch worm, 

Jesus will come bye-an'-bye ! 

I hear again the mellow music of 

I want to be ready, I want to be ready, 

I want to be ready 
To walk in Jerusalem just like John ! 

I can see their bodies swaying rhythmically, their faces alight with 
passionate feeling. 

Since that time I have been definitely collecting Negro folk-songs. 
I used a number of them in my books, "From a Southern Porch," 
and "In the Land of Cotton," and found that readers were more in- 
terested in them than in anything I could write. 

Sometimes I have chanced upon songs unexpectedly, as in Louis- 



12 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



ville, Kentucky, several years ago, when I was waiting for a belated 
train. An old, old colored man, in ragged felt hat and clothes scarcely 
more than a collection of tattered patches, came along, followed by a 
flea-infested yellow dog. (I did not see the fleas, but the dog ges- 
tured of their presence.) In spite of his garb, the old man had a 
quaint, antique dignity, which seemed to say that clothes were of 
small moment; I am sure he had a soul above patches. As he walked 
along, singing to himself, I followed him to hear and take down his 
song. His voice was cracked and quavery, and with the peculiar 
catch that aged Negroes have in their singing, but it was pathetically 
sweet. 



RUN, NIGGER, RUN 

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pat - ter - roll - er get you. Run nig-ger run, it's al - most day. 

If you get there before I do, 

'Most done ling'rin' here; 
Look out for me, I am cornin', too, 

'Most done ling'rin' here. 

Chorus 

I'm goin' away, goin' away, 

I'm 'most done ling'rin' here; 
I'm goin' away to Galilee, 

And I'm 'most done ling'rin' here. 

I have hard trials on my way, 

'Most done ling'rin' here; 
But still King Jesus hears me pray, 

'Most done ling'rin' here. 



i 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



13 



In much the same way I chanced upon an old woman in Atlanta, 
Georgia, one summer, as I was sauntering down a street by myself. 
She tottered along, leaning on a cane, her face half hidden in a slat- 
bonnet, her frail body neat in a gray gingham dress. She was singing 
in a remote fashion, as if she herself were not aware of the song. 

I bless the Lawd, I'm born to die; 

Keep me from sinkin' down; 
I'm gwine to jedgment bye an' bye; 

Keep me from sinkin' down. 

She reminded me of old Aunt Peggy, whom I used to see in Waco, 
who said she was a hundred and fifteen years old and looked every 
day of it. Aunt Peggy used to walk around to visit her friends, sup- 
porting herself by a baby carriage which she pushed in front of her, 
and which she used as a convenient receptacle to hold gifts from her 
white friends. I spoke to this old woman and asked her if she knew 
any more songs. 

" Yas'm, honey, I is knowed a passel of 'em, but dey 's mos'ly fled 
away from me now-days. Dis misery in my back make me stedy 
'bout hit mo' dan 'bout singing." 

I remember a morning in Birmingham, Alabama, when I was 
strolling leisurely in the colored section of the town to hear what I 
could hear. I had been interrogating some small boys who had en- 
tered cordially into my quest for songs and had sung several for me. 
And then, having taken a friendly interest in my search, they fol- 
lowed me as I walked along. One of the urchins said, "Man comin' 
long in dat cart is singin' some sort o' song." I looked and saw a 
rickety wagon filled with junk, and a tall black man standing up to 
drive like a charioteer. He was singing lustily: 

OLD GRAY HORSE COME TEARIN' OUT O' DE 
WILDERNESS 



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Old gray horse come tearin' out o'de wil - der - ness, 



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Old gray horse come tearin' out o'de wilder-ness Down in Al - a - bam. 



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1 4 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Old grey horse come a-tearin' out o' de wilderness, 

Tearin' out o' de wilderness, 

Tearin' out o' de wilderness; 
Old grey horse come a-tearin' out o' de wilderness, 

Down in Alabam ! 

Memory flashed me back to my childhood, and I heard my mother 
sing that rollicking old song: 

Old grey horse, he come from Jerusalem, 

Come from Jerusalem, 

Come from Jerusalem; 
Old grey horse he come from Jerusalem, 

Down in Alabam ! 

If my wife dies, I'll get me another one, 

Get me another one, 

Get me another one. 
If my wife dies, I '11 get me another one, 

Down in Alabam ! 

I followed the cart down the crowded street, the small boys following 
me, and I felt a home-sick pang to hear the last lines as the cart 
turned round the corner and out of sight. 

Great big fat one, just like t' other one, 

Just like t'other one, 

Just like t'other one; 
Great big fat one, just like t'other one, 

Down in Alabam ! 

I remember many experiences I met in search of Negro folk-songs, 
each with its own interest for me. There was a baptizing that I went 
to in Natchez, Mississippi, for example, where I heard many of the 
genuine old songs. It was an impressive occasion. The immersions 
took place in a pond near the outskirts of town, on the grounds of 
what had once been the home of the first Spanish governor of Missis- 
sippi. The fine old house had been burned down, but the great 
marble stairway was still standing, and I stood for a while on the top 
steps to watch the services — though I presently moved down to be 
nearer the crowd. 

The candidates for baptism met by appointment at a house some 
distance away; and when the crowd had gathered at the pond, they 
came in solemn file, robed in white, men and women alike, their robes 
tied about their knees by cords so that the skirts would not float in 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 15 

the water, and their heads bound in white cloths. They came in pro- 
cession, two by two, singing a dirge-like song, which the hundreds of 
Negroes waiting at the edge of the pond caught up and joined in. 

The preacher stood in the water, with a half-dozen men by him, 
three on each side. I wondered what their office was, but I soon 
learned. They were needed. As a candidate was led into the water, 
the preacher lifted his voice in passionate exhortation, which swept 
his audience into fervor of response. Shouts and groans came up, 
and snatches of weird song. 

I 'm gwine down to Jordan — Hallelu ! 
I 'm gwine down to Jordan — Hallelu ! 
Wid de elders in de lead. 

I 'm so glad I got my religion in time ! 

You said somep'n, now, brother ! 
Praise de Lawd! 

I was told that the preacher charged a dollar a head for baptizing, 
— money in advance, — but I cannot vouch for that statement. I 
can only say that I think he earned his fees. 

As the candidate was led to his place in the water, the preacher 
lifted his hand and said, "I, Elder Cosgrove, baptize you, Sister 
[or Brother] in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. " One 
white youngster asked, " Why does he put hisself in front of God? " 

The candidate as he was plunged beneath the water manifested 
lively motion, and emotion. He struggled, and thrashed about, till it 
required the services of the pastor and the six helpers to get him to 
his feet again. Some of the candidates, amid wild excitement, lost 
their balance and fell heavily back into the water, to be rescued with 
difficulty by the helpers, amid the groans and ejaculations of the 
congregation. 

The small white boy asked, "What makes 'em wrastle so? Do 
they think the baptizin' would n't take if they did n't fight?" 

With each immersion the excitement grew, the shouting became 
more wild and unrestrained, the struggles of the candidate more 
violent. Women ran up and down the banks of the pond, wringing 
their hands, groaning and crying. I thought of the priests of Baal 
who leaped and shouted as they called upon their god to hear them 
and send down fire to light their altar. The crowd surged back and 
forth, and as one bystander would rush to greet a candidate coming 
out of the water, shrieking forth joy and thanksgiving, the crowd 
would join in vehement song. Sometimes half-a-dozen shouters 



1 6 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

would be in ecstasy at once, each surrounded by a group of admirers 
trying to control him, or her — usually her. Each group would be a 
centre of commotion in the general excitement. 

The shouter would fall on the ground, writhing about as if in 
anguish, tearing her hair, beating off those who sought to calm her. 
Sometimes one, reeling too near in the throes of thanksgiving, would 
fall into the water and have to be fished out, somewhat subdued but 
still shrieking, and led off to dry in the sun. 

I tried repeatedly to get a picture of the scene, but each time I 
adjusted the kodak, some shouter would start up beside me and all 
but push me into the pond. That little black box seemed to have an 
unfortunate effect on the crowd. One time I thought I would per- 
sist, but in the melee I was all but crushed. I was between the pond 
on one side and a barbed-wire fence on the other, with no chance for 
escape but a tree which I might have climbed had it not been a bois- 
d'arc, full of hard thorns. The crowd surged against me, and I had to 
put up my kodak hastily and become as inconspicuous as possible. I 
do not think they meant to harm me, but it was merely a matter of 
emotional excitement. Even my pencil taking down songs upset 
them. 

Vendors of ice-cream cones and cigarettes went in and out through 
the crowd, selling refreshments to those who did not have their whole 
interest centred in the ordinance. I watched until the last candidate 
had been immersed and led off dripping across the field, and the 
last of the watchers had trickled away, singing snatches of song, 
shouting ejaculations, sometimes to each other and sometimes to 
the Lord. 

There was an afternoon in Natchitoches, Louisiana, when I went 
to the Baptist church to see the janitor, who had promised to sing for 
me. A storm darkened and muttered in the distance, coming nearer 
and nearer, in awesome accompaniment to the gentle voice that 
echoed through the empty room as Parsons sang song after song. 
One that especially impressed me was about the cooling board, which 
means death-bed. 

Gwine to lay me on a cooling board one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to lay me on a cooling board one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to lay me on a cooling board one of dese mornings, 
Hope I'll jine de band. 

Chorus 

Oh, my sister, oh, my sister, oh, my sister, 
Won't you come and go? 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 17 

Gwine to lay me in my coffin one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to lay me in my coffin one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to lay me in my coffin one of dese mornings, 
Hope I'll jine de band. 

Chorus 

Gwine to wrap me in a white sheet one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to wrap me in a white sheet one of dese mornings, 
Gwine to wrap me in a white sheet one of dese mornings, 
Hope 1 11 jine de band. 

Chorus 

Oh, pore mourner, oh, pore mourner, oh, pore mourner, 
Won't you come and go wid me? 

A cordial invitation, but one that did not tempt me to accept! 

It was in Natchitoches Parish that Sebron Mallard, who had been 
one of my grandfather's slaves, came to see me. He said, "I was 
ploughing when I got the word that Mister Johnny's daughter was 
nigh here, and I drapped the plough and made tracks toward you." 
He could not sing, he told me, but he gave me information of value 
about some of the songs I was investigating, helping me to establish 
their antiquity by the fact that he had heard them in his childhood. 
He told me much about my grandparents — the grandfather and 
grandmother who had died long before I was born; and he gave me 
many little intimate details about my dead father's boyhood. He 
said, " Mister Johnny war de youngest of all de boys, but he knowed 
how to work harder and laugh more than any of 'em." 

He said, "Li'l mistis, is you well? Is you happy?" 

"Yes, Uncle Sebron, I'm always well, and I'm very happy," I 
told him. 

He looked at me with dimming eyes. 

"My ole pappy toP me befo' he died that good luck would be 
bound to go with oP Marster's fambly becase they was alius so good 
to their pore slaves. They brought us up mannerble, and I brought 
my chillun up thataway, too. And ain't none of us never been ar- 
rested nor had no trouble. But some of the young folks these days 
is n't that way and it makes trouble. Us old folks sees when dey do 
wrong, and it hurts us, but we can't do nothing, cause we's feeble 
and we 's few. 

"White folks and black folks look like they ain't live lovely to- 
gether like they used to." 

I got some interesting material from a Negro in Chattanooga, 
Tennessee. Some members of a colored church where I attended 



1 8 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

service having told me that a night watchman at one of the railroad 
buildings knew a lot of songs, a friend and I went to the place that 
night and found a good-natured, middle-aged Negro man, who said 
he was a preacher as well as a watchman. He was just starting off to 
post the night mail when we arrived, but said if we could wait till he 
came back he would sing what he knew. So we sat down in the de- 
serted building and awaited his return. I did not want to leave with- 
out songs, for I had lugged my phonograph along to take records and 
had no wish to waste that time or energy. After considerable time he 
came back and sang various spirituals for us. 

My quest for songs brought me an invitation to visit Melrose, a 
big plantation in North Louisiana, whose owner, Mrs. Henry, wrote 
me that the region was rich in folk-song and tradition. Her planta- 
tion is in a section where few white people live, the district being al- 
most entirely settled by Negroes and by what are called free mulat- 
toes. The latter are descendants of Frenchmen who in early days 
homes teaded in that region and had mulatto children, to whom they 
left their property. So the region shows an interesting cleavage of 
color, the Negroes having their settlement, their churches, Methodist 
and Baptist, and their schools, while the mulattoes have their schools, 
their Catholic church and convent, and their separate social life. 
There is almost as little social commingling between the mulattoes 
and the blacks as between the whites and the mulattoes, I was told. 

I talked with a number of the people there, both black and mu- 
latto, and heard fascinating songs and stories of life before the war in 
Louisiana. 

Among those whom I found especially interesting were Uncle 
Israel and Aunt Jane, he being ninety-one years old by his estimate 
of what he remembered, and she being ninety-four. He remembered 
seeing the stars fall, — that is the date by which most old colored 
people estimate their age, — and had witnessed a famous duel when 
he was a child, the duel between Gaigner and Boissier. 

"I saw dem fight. One stood at de rising of de sun, one at de set- 
ting of de sun. I was a little boy, was carrying feed. Gen'l Boissier 
was plated — I mean he had silver plate all over hisself so de bullet 
wouldn't hu't him." 

Uncle Israel walked with a limp and supported himself by his cane. 
He said, "It ain't oP age dat makes me limp. I got a tap on my hip 
when I war a young man befo' I war married. I war a house servant, 
but when Marse 'Polyte would get mad at de house servants, he 
would send dem to de field to work. I was hoein' cotton, an' he 
called me an' said, ' Clean up dis row.' I thought I had it clean, but I 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



19 



ain't. Mister 'Polyte kicked me on de hip. I done limped ever since. 
I war eighteen then." 

"Were the slave-owners very cruel to their slaves?" I asked him. 

"Some of 'em was," he answered. "OF Marse would grease 

'em with tallow and whup 'em till de blood run down. Den he would 
spread tallow over 'em and hoF a candle to it and burn 'em. De 
white folks took him up in law about it. 

" Mister Alec had an overseer he called Mr. Cobb. His head 'most 
reached up to dat j'ist dere. He whipped Niggers wid a saw. Mr. 
Alec turned him off. Some of de free mulattoes was mo' cruel to deir 
slaves dan white folks." 

Uncle Israel sang various songs for me. 

AFRICAN COUNTING SONG 



-Jh^r -. — — 3— fs fc 3— f— ft 


Rpii-J J i J. M t ~ i nrp*-j. . \ x i 



Nin-ni non-no - si - mun - gi, nin - ni non - no si - mun - gi, 




Nin - ni non - no 



si - du - bi Sa-bi du - te si -mun 



Ninni nonno simungi, 

Ninni nonno simungi, 

Ninni nonno sidubi sabadute simungi. 

Ninni nonno simungi, 

Ninni nonno simungi, 

Ninni nonno sidubi sabadute simungi. 

"Dat'soF African. I learned it fum my mother. She come telling 
us ail these little tales. That was a count. The old outlandish man 
counted. When you said dat twice, dat 's ten. My mother learned it 
fum an African fum her country." 

Uncle Israel gave another song, which he said was African, but it 
is largely a mixture, of course, if there is any African in it. 

All along, all along, all along, 
Linked in blue. 

I bet any man a pint of brandy 
All of me marks will be thirty-two. 

Uncle Israel says, "Dat means a man countin' in his language in 
African." 



20 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

He gave a riddle, which Professor Kittredge says is old, but 
adopted from the whites. 

I went out to worldy wiggy waggy, 

I saw Tom Tiggy-taggy. 

I called Brown Wiggy-waggy 

To drive Tom Tiggy-taggy 

Out of worldy wiggy waggy. 

He said, "Dat was a dog and a hog. De hog was in de field and de 
dog was sont to drive him out." 

Uncle Israel was a delightful person to talk with, for he was so 
pleased at finding some one interested in what he knew and remem- 
bered, that he would talk endlessly, piling up reminiscences of by- 
gone days, singing scraps of song. 

I went to see Aunt Jane in their cabin, for she was "feelin' po'ly, 
thank God," Uncle Israel said, and could not come to the big house 
to see me. I found her lying huddled in bed, a large, dignified woman. 
Her cabin was one to delight an antiquarian's heart, for it was just 
as it had been during slavery days. Meals were cooked over the open 
fireplace, in antique pots with little legs, and in long spiders, and so 
forth. The house itself was built of mud fastened together with moss 
black from age. In an adjoining room half-a-dozen children were en- 
tertaining themselves and looking after a baby while its mother was 
busy with her washing. The baby was rocking in a bran, a peculiar 
contrivance made of a large circular piece of wood, over which was 
stretched a sheep skin. This was hung from the ceiling so that it 
swayed and rocked gently, a comfortable nest for any baby. 

Aunt Jane and Uncle Israel sang into my phonograph, and I can 
see now their shaking gray heads close together in front of the mys- 
terious horn, and smile again at their childish delight at hearing the 
horn give their own songs back to them. 

Uncle Israel and Aunt Jane gossiped of the mulattoes and of the 
various grades of color, of the "griffs," of the "freakides," who were 
"mo' white dan colored," of the "quateroons" — "not so deep 
colored." I learned of a quarrel Uncle Israel had had with one of the 
mulatto house servants about this question of color. She had disre- 
spectfully called him a Nigger, and he had retorted : 

"What if I is a Nigger? I b 'longs to a race of people. But you 
ain't. I did n't never read in de Bible about whar it speaks of mulat- 
toes as a race of people. You is mules, dat's whut you is." 

The young mulatto had slung a skillet at him, and the argument 
ended. He said to me, "De mulattoes ain't live as long as white 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 21 

folks or colored either. Dey ain't a healthy folks. I '11 tell dat to deir 
face." 

Aunt Jane talked of old days as she lay back against her pillow, 
and I sat in an ancient split-bottom chair beside her bed, while 
Uncle Israel pottered about, poking the fire and fumbling among old 
papers to see what he could find to show me. 

She said, "Dey tuck me fum my mammy when I was a baby. My 
ol' marster he died an' a ol' lady bought me. She so ugly I don't re- 
member her name. She did n't buy my mammy. My mammy had 
to teck it, 'case she could n't he'p herself. She never sent me no 
papers, nor I her, and I don't know nothing 'bout her sence dat time. 
When I was a young girl I was sold at de block in New Orleans. Dey 
stood me up on de block in de slave-pen. De doctor 'zaminie me fust 
an' look at my teeth. I war sold for fifteen hunned dollars." 

She gazed wistfully out of the door and said, "I study a lot 'bout 
my mammy. I wunner will I ever see her agin." 

Poor old Aunt Jane! — since I saw her, she has died. Let us hope 
that she has found her mammy. 

One of the mulatto men told me about how the Negroes would 
beat drums and cotton sticks, and chant, 

Sing no more Creole — free nation. 
Sing no more Creole — free nation. 

I was told of the Creole dances and dance-songs. 

I had a delightful time getting Creole songs in New Orleans, the 
songs in the Creole patois sung by the French-speaking Negroes. I 
had the privilege of meeting some charming Creole ladies, friends of 
one of the friends I was visiting in New Orleans, who sang into my 
phonograph lively songs they had learned from the French Negroes. 
That dialect is no more like correct French than Negro dialect is like 
ordinary English. The songs are difficult to capture, and very few of 
them have been printed. Here is a sample : 

Maman Donne Moin un Pitit Mari 

Maman donne moin un pitit mari. 
Bon Dieu, quel un homme comme li pitit ! 
Mo mette le couche dans mo lite, 
Bon Dieu, comme li si t' on pitit ! 
Chatte rentre et prend li pour un sourit. 
Bon Dieu, quel-ti un homme que li pitit ! 



22 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



MAMAN DONNE MOIN UN PITIT MARI 



1 0-FS — 3 — K K— 1 


i — N IS 


I 3 


_7f_g — r mmmmm — i — 1 


— P p 




(CV\ 4 at J 


mm 




^4 J * i • * 






9 • # * 


m 


IT * _J_ # # 



n 


Ma - man don - ne moin un pitit ma 


- ri. Bon Dieu, quel un homme com- 


V 










k. 


A 


i\ 






J m 


K N 


S N 


icn 


K K 




J 4 - 






JS 


VWJ 








J J If* 


# 


«J • 


-J-- * 


& 






• * IT 





me li - pi - tit! Mo mette le couch -e dans mo lite, Bon 

-h N- 



■*=t 



ai-J^P 



S 



& 



Dieu, com -me li si t'on - pi - tit! Chatte ren-tre et prend li 



% r } ? — h — %~i — h— p — f =— r— r — ? — i 


§) L_L_ — J---J — f **-■* ^ f — 4 



pour un sou - rit. Bon Dieu, quel - ti un homme que li pi - tit. 



A friend of mine on the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nash- 
ville, Tennessee, took me to see the venerable Dr. Boyd, head of the 
Baptist Publication Society for the colored people. Dr. Boyd, who 
was eighty years old, remembers much of interest concerning the old 
songs and the life in the South before the war. He said that he did 
not know the secular songs, the reels and dance-songs, because in his 
youth where he lived it was thought unpardonable to pick a banjo, 
and the person who did so was put out of the church. His mother 
left the church "because of an organ." He said that for a long time 
the religious songs of the Negroes almost died out, but a few people 
loved them and kept on singing them, till college people got to ad- 
mitting that there was more music in them than in other songs. 
Then Fisk University took up the jubilee singing, and gradually the 
spiritual came back into its own place among the colored people. He 
said, "You can break loose with an old spiritual in a meeting and 
move the church." 

Years ago Dr. Boyd arranged for the collecting and publishing of 
many of the old spirituals in a book which his publishing house 
brought out. Singers who could sing but did not write music went 
travelling through the South to learn the songs and fix them in their 
memory; and when they came back, a musician took down the tunes 
and wrote them out. 

Dr. Boyd told me incidents of the history of various songs. For 
example, he said of the familiar old spiritual, Steal Away, that it 
was sung in slavery times when the Negroes on a few plantations 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 23 

were forbidden to hold religious services. That was because the 
masters were afraid of gatherings which might lead to insurrections 
like some that had occurred. So the Negroes would gather in a 
cabin and hold their service by stealth. They would resort to a pecu- 
liar practice to prevent their singing from being heard at the big 
house. They would turn an iron washpot upside down on the dirt 
floor and put a stick under it, and would sing in such way that they 
thought the sound would be muffled under the pot. Dr. Boyd says 
that he had often gone to such services with his mother in his child- 
hood and seen this done. He said that, in fact, he believed the white 
people knew of the gatherings and allowed them, though the Negroes 
were fearful of being found out. 

In this quest of mine for songs I have received friendly aid from 
many people, who have given songs and information of value. For 
instance, I appealed to the late Dr. John A. Wyeth, of New York, 
who was a Southerner and knew the South of antebellum days. He 
answered that he would get his old banjo out of storage and play and 
sing for me songs that he had learned in his childhood from old 
Uncle Billy on his father's plantation. I spent a rapt evening listen- 
ing to his songs and reminiscences. 

He said of Run, Nigger, Run, a famous slavery-time song, which 
I had heard my mother sing, that it is one of the oldest of the 
plantation songs. White people were always afraid of an insurrec- 
tion among the Negroes, and so they had the rule that no Negro 
should be off his own plantation, especially at night, without a pass. 
They had patrols stationed along the roads to catch truant Negroes, 
and the slaves called them "patter-rollers." The darkies sang many 
amusing songs about the patrols and their experiences in eluding 
them. 

Dr. Wyeth told of Uncle Billy, who played and sang these songs 
and who taught them to his little master. When the boy became 
more proficient than the old men, Uncle Billy put away his banjo 
and never played again. Uncle Billy's throat was cut by a "scala- 
wag" not long after the war was over — a scalawag being a South- 
erner who turned Republican. This was a Republican Negro. 

Dr. Wyeth gave a reminiscent account of Uncle Billy's playing. 
The old darky would sing and play for a while, then stop and talk, 
after which rambling recitative he would resume his singing. 

"Golly, white folks, I went down to see Sal last night," he would 
grunt. (Sal was his sweetheart on another plantation.) "Nigger 
heels are the toughest part of the foot. I wuz ten years old befo' my 
mammy knowed which end my toes come out of. Dat heel stratched 
an' stratched till I got clear away." 



M 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 
RUN, NIGGER, RUN 



Very quickly 



Run, nig - ger, run; de pat- ter - roll - er catch you 



^S 



• -4- •••• + +. ■ JT 

i, nig-ger, run; de pat- ter- roll -er catch you; Run, nig-ger, run, It 's 



I 



^= i= i 



*=fc 



3 



i J- 1 i. 



al - most day. Run, nig-ger, run, de pat - ter - roll - er catch you — 



1 



?=?= 



^m 



-#- w w * - -&- 

Run, nig - ger, run, and try to get a - way. Dis nig-ger run, he 



K 



£3 



^t« 



run his best, Stuck his head in a horn-et's nest, Jumped de fence and 



t 



fe£ 



$r=tv 



run fru de pas - ter; White man run, but nig - ger run fast - er. 

Run, nigger run; de patter-roller catch you; 
Run, nigger, run, it's almost day. 
Run, nigger, run, de patter-roller catch you; 
Run, nigger, run, and try to get away. 

Dis nigger run, he run his best, 
Stuck his head in a hornet's nest, 
Jumped de fence and run fru de paster; 
White man run, but nigger run faster. 

Various versions of the nigger and his necessitous race are given by 
different persons; as the following from Mrs. Charles Carroll, of 
Louisiana, who learned it from her grandmother, who had learned it 
from the slaves on her plantation: 

Run, nigger, run, 

The patter-roller '11 catch you; 

Run, nigger, run, 

It's almost day. 

Dat nigger run, 
Dat nigger flew, 
Dat nigger lost 
His Sunday shoe. 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



25 



MOST DONE LING'RIN' HERE 



¥& 



Bga ^R^B^ g 



W=^ 



If you get there be - fore I do. Most done ling'rin' here, Look 



i^£ 



IwuhmI 



k^EEf ^^S^ 



out for me I am com -in' too, Most done ling'rin' here. 
Chorus 



£=3=3 



— tLj~~LT 



m 



-0 — # 



g 



rfc 



I'm goin' a -way goin' a - way I'm 'most done ling'rin' here; 



^g 



^ — #- 



s^s 



I'm goin' a -way to Gal - i - lee, And I'm 'most done ling'rin' here. 

Run, nigger, run, 

The patter-roller '11 catch you; 

Run, nigger, run, 

And try to get away. 

My sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, remembers the escaping 
darky as having lost his "wedding shoe" instead of merely his 
Sunday one, which, of course, made the calamity still greater. 
W. R. Boyd, Jr., insists that 

Dat nigger run, 
Dat nigger flew, 
Dat nigger tore 
His shirt in two. 

I learned an African chant from an old Negro woman in Waco, 
Texas, who had heard it in her childhood. Her grandmother had got 
it from an old man who had been brought from Africa as a slave. The 
woman who sang it for me could explain nothing of what the words 
meant or how they should be spelled. It seems to be a combination 
of African and English. The air recalls the beating of tom-toms in 
African jungles. 



26 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



INGO-ANGO FAY 



I 



Q- ^-U M^E*E^ 



l h¥= ? 



^ 



*=* 



Go fay, go fay! In - go, an- go fay! Cir-clethis house in a 



g=f±fc£ 



hoo-sal-lay, In a - in - go - an - go fay. Go fay, go fay! 



3=fc 



3 



IS 



go fay. 



In - go - an 



Will jew my 'lig - ion a - way. 



r~? : ; ; j ; t $y< . r^ ^ 



Mum-bi, ki - ki, jo - ki lo, In a - in - go - an - go fay! 

Go fay, go fay! 

Ingo-ango fay ! 

Circle this house in a hoo-sal lay, 

In a-ingo-ango fay. 

Go fay, go fay ! 

Ingo-ango fay ! 

Will jew my 'ligion away. 

Mumbi, kiki, joki lo, 

In a-ingo-ango fay! 

A wordless chant was given me by Miss Emilie Walter of Charles- 
ton, South Carolina. Miss Walter says, " There is one song in which 
no words are used, only the sound { un' sung through the nose, with 
the mouth open. This is a very sacred song, kept for the most 
exalted moment of getting religion. It is never sung in the presence 
of adult white persons, but a small white child had a keen musical 
ear and tenacious memory. The low voices begin it. It is taken up 
by the higher voices, then the top-notch sopranos come in and make 
a complete fugue. They sing this until the sinner is converted and 
the piercing shrieks of the converted finish the fugue." 

Elizabeth Sullivan sent a couple of songs and an account of an un- 
conventional singer. "The Reverend Paul Sykes, bishop, pastor and 
janitor of the First Straight Gate Church of Kingsfisher, Oklahoma, 
who sang these songs, is a most interesting old man. He founded his 
church, and in order to get funds with which to build it and keep it 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



27 



CHANT 



Slowly 



S 



n 



s 



g^-M 



g^^-r^ 



& 



feM 



-V- 



i i j J 



\l 



1 



*=4 



E 



-si- 



^ 



it 



I 



S: 



i £ 4 J- ^ ^ 



3" 



First time — beginning on D. 
Second time — beginning on F-sharp. 
Third time — beginning on A. 

[Third voice written an octave lower as range is too high. Might be sung thus — 
with second voice a sixth lower instead of a third higher.] 

going, he meets every train that goes through Kingsfisher (except on 
Sundays), and sings and dances on the station platform for the 
'loaves and fishes,' the fishes being pennies and loaves anything 
larger. With this collection he pays his own salary and cares for the 
church, which he built from the same source of funds. He never 
dances except on the station platform, and for this church collection. 
After his dance is over, he carried himself with the dignity befitting 
the bishop, pastor and janitor of the Straight Gate Church. It is es- 
timated that he has danced more than thirty thousand times and 
taken in more than fifteen thousand dollars. 

"On Sundays he preaches in his church in the morning, and in the 
afternoon to street crowds, which are often made up mostly of white 
people. He is seventy-seven years old, and alone in the world since 
the death of his wife. He founded his church twenty-seven years 
ago." 



28 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

The ol' a'k's A-movin' 
The oY a'k's a-movin'. 



A-movin' along, chillun, 
The ol' a'k's movin', 
A-movin' right along. 
Hebben 's so high 
An' I 'm so low, 
Don't know whuther 
I '11 git thar or no. 
The ol' a'k's a-movin', 
A-movin' along, chillun, 
The ol' a'k's a-movin', 
A-movin' right along. 

In 1923, just after the publication of my novel, "In the Land of 
Cotton," which contains a number of Negro folk-songs, I went back 
to Texas on a visit and spent a part of my time in research after 
others. In Fort Worth, the choir leader of the Mount Gilead Bap- 
tist Church, and her husband, the director of the colored Y. M. C. A., 
called on me at Mayor Cockrell's home, to express appreciation of 
my interest in the folk-music of their race, and offered to put on a 
special service of spirituals in place of the sermon at their evening 
service. They asked me if I would speak on the religious aspects of 
folk-song, and announcement was made that white people were in- 
vited. Half the house was reserved for white visitors, and so great is 
the love for the beautiful old songs that every seat was taken. The 
musical service was a moving and impressive one, many of the fine 
old spirituals being sung by the well-trained choir. I spoke briefly 
of the dignity and value of Negro folk-song, and urged that efforts be 
made to preserve the old songs. I said in closing that there was only 
one request I had to make in connection with my funeral, which I 
hoped was some time in the future. I should not be at all satisfied 
unless some of my colored friends were there and sang, Swing Low, 
Sweet Chariot. As I sat down, the choir and congregation softly 
took up the strains : 

Swing low, sweet chario-ot, 

Comin' for to carry me home ! 

I felt for the moment as if I were attending my own obsequies, and 
wondered if the instant response were a hint that an early demise 
was desirable. When the song was over, an elderly man, a teacher in 
a Negro high school in another town, rose and said: "This is one of 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 29 

the happiest days of my life. It does my heart good to hear a white 
lady from a great university urge us to treasure our racial folk-songs 
because scholars prize them. We must all work together to collect 
them and save them for future generations." 

While I was in Waco, my old home, Professor A. J. Armstrong of 
Baylor University, took me to a concert given by a Negro college 
there. The choral club rendered, for the pleasure of the general audi- 
ence, such selections as the Sextette from Lucia, and for my special 
delectation some of the old folk-songs. And Judge West and Miss 
Decca West gave a garden party for me on the lawn at Minglewood, 
the chief feature of which was the singing of a number of folk-songs 
by the choral club of Paul Quinn College, who had sung at the Texas 
Folk-lore Association some years before. 

Mrs. Tom Bartlett, of Marlin, who with the assistance of Mrs. 
Buie had given me a number of songs for my collection, invited me 
down to a " f estibul " she was giving in my honor. For the benefit of 
uninitiate Northerners, I perhaps should explain that that is a term 
used in my childhood to designate the more pretentious social af- 
fairs given by colored folk. This was on the Bartlett lawn at sunset; 
and after speeches of welcome from Dr. Torbett and Tom Connally, 
Congressman from the district, the choir of the colored Baptist 
church gathered by the piano in the parlor and sang with beautiful 
harmony a number of the old songs that I loved best. 

During one of the pauses, Aunt Bedie, an aged Negress who had 
been in the Bartlett family service for generations, came forward to 
the cement walk in front of us who were gathered on the lawn, and 
said, "Now I'm gwine to sing you my song." 

With that she began an extraordinary chant which she said she 
had made up, "words and chune, too," the refrain of which was 

I am Mary Maggalene, 
Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

No instrument could reproduce and no notation record the trills and 
quavers of that song. Presently she paused, and said, "Now I'm 
gwine to twist myself round a little." With that, she hitched up one 
shoulder, then the other, and began a shimmy to the rhythm of her 
chant, very fantastic, very passionate. 

In a few minutes more she announced, "Now I'm gwine to turn 
myself loose a little." Thereupon she began to whirl like a dancing 
dervish, her chant growing louder and wilder, her motions more un- 
restrained, until Mrs. Bartlett led her away. I have never seen any- 
thing like it. 



30 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I enjoyed the singing of the choir so much that the next morning, 
which was Sunday, I attended services at the Baptist church in order 
to hear them again. They sang a number of the sweet old spirituals, 
their voices blending in that unstudied harmony that comes so na- 
turally to the Negro choruses. After the song service was over, the 
preacher asked if I would "say a few words," and a young man 
teacher in the Negro school introduced me as a lady from New York 
who was touring the South in the interests of the colored race. He 
expressed the hope that I might stay in the South long enough to get 
to know the colored folk, and maybe to understand them and love 
them a little. I answered that I was a Southerner born and bred, 
and that I had been loving the southern Negroes ever since I could 
remember anything. 

At the close of my brief talk, the elderly preacher thanked me 
quaintly. He said: "Lady, we feel so kind toward you. I feel about 
you like a colored man I once heard of. He and his pardner were 
working on top of a high, tall building, when he got too close to the 
edge and he fell off. His pardner called out to him, 'Stop, Jim, 
you'se falling.' But he sang out, 'I can't stop. I'se done fell.' 

"His pardner leaned over the edge an' call to him an' say, 'You, 
Jim! You'se gwine to fall on a white lady!' An' Jim stopped and 
come right on back up. That's the way we feel toward you." 

I consider that the most chivalrous compliment that anyone ever 
paid me. 

At this point the preacher was interrupted by Aunt Bedie, who 
tripped hobblingly up the front aisle and stood before the pulpit. 
"Now I'm gwine to sing you my song," she announced, addressing 
me. And then she started the same song and dance she had given at 
the"festibul." 

The preacher looked at me in distress, but I indicated that I was 
not greatly shocked, and he seemed helpless to stop her. I learned 
afterward that Aunt Bedie had been expelled from the choir because 
she created so much disturbance. She had taken advantage of my 
folk-loristic interest to come forward once more; and she was truly 
an arresting sight, with her tiny hat perched on top of her head, and 
her diminutive frame contorted in a dance that would have thrilled 
Broadway. 

I am told that Aunt Bedie has a passion for corsets and begs these 
cast-off garments of everyone she knows, so that her house is filled 
with them. 

I even sought for folk-songs in the Governor's mansion, where I 
was a guest for several days. Governor Pat Neff told me of a song 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 31 

sung for him on the occasion of one of his official visits to a state- 
prison farm. A Negro man came up to him after supper, and said, 
"Will you listen while I sing you a song?" He rendered a ditty 
whose refrain ran as follows: 

If I had the gov'ner 

Where the gov'ner has me, 
Before daylight 

I 'd set the gov'ner free. 

I begs you, gov'ner, 

Upon my soul: 
If you won't gimme a pardon, 

Won't you gimme a parole? 

I have received material from many sources. Teachers, preachers, 
plantation owners, musicians, writers — many people, white and 
black — have given aid in this search. I have received songs written 
in the trembling hand of age, and in the cramped scrawl of childhood. 
Hands more skilled at guiding the plough than the pen have written 
down old songs for me, and college professors have given me friendly 
help. 

I have visited many institutions and heard many groups of 
Negroes sing — schools, colleges, churches, factories, and so forth. 
The girls' glee club of Straight College, New Orleans, gave a special 
concert for me during my stay in that town, and I greatly enjoyed 
their rendition of folk-songs. I attended chapel services at Fisk Uni- 
versity, in Nashville, and heard the whole student body sing under 
the leadership of Matthew Work, who has done so much to collect 
and preserve Negro spirituals. I have heard the fine glee clubs of 
Hampton and Tuskegee, the Sabbath Glee Club of Richmond, and 
others. I remember the thrill with which I heard the singing of a 
group of college singers who gave some of the old spirituals before 
the Southern Baptist Convention at Chattanooga, Tennessee, one 
spring. I recall with especial pleasure the concert given by the 
Sharon Band, composed of one hundred seventy-rive voices, from the 
colored employees of the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company in Rich- 
mond, Virginia, a year ago, when the Negroes sang their old songs 
to a large audience of white and colored people. Roll, Jordan, Roll, 
and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, were among the numbers they gave 
with best effect. 

I have taken advantage of every opportunity to hear folk-songs, 
sung either by the Negroes themselves or by white people who 



32 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

learned them from the Negroes. I have besought the aid of every 
person who I thought might know of songs, and have eagerly cap- 
tured words or music where I could find them. I have had the assis- 
tance of many people — for such a quest would be useless if one relied 
on one's own resources. I have begged for songs from friends, ac- 
quaintances, and strangers, and have received cooperation for which 
I am most grateful. In later papers I shall tell of the various people 
who have helped me and the songs they have contributed, for the 
work which I am doing is to make a folk-book in truth. 

My friend, Ola Lee Gulledge, has rendered invaluable aid in taking 
down songs at first hand, and in working them out from phonograph 
records which I took. We have collected several hundred songs, with 
variants to many of them, and have had a happy task of sorting 
them and putting them into shape for publication. 



II 



THE NEGRO'S PART IN TRANSMIT- 
TING THE TRADITIONAL SONGS 
AND BALLADS 

ONE of the most fascinating discoveries to be made in a study of 
southern folk-lore is that Negroes have preserved orally, and 
for generations, independent of the whites, some of the familiar Eng- 
lish and Scotch songs and ballads, and have their own distinct ver- 
sions of them. I was vastly interested in this fact when I chanced 
upon it in research I was making in ballad material some years ago 
in Texas and Virginia. Unaware that other cases existed, I thought 
at first that what I found were only exceptions, accidents of folk- 
song, though I began to look for similar instances. I found enough to 
start a nucleus for a discussion of this aspect of folk-song, and so was 
especially interested in an article by C. Alphonso Smith, professor of 
English at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, com- 
menting on his discovery of the same fact (" Ballads Surviving in 
the United States," in the Musical Quarterly, January, 191 6). Pro- 
fessor Smith wrote, in answer to my appeal for suggestions for this 
book of mine: "It seems to me that you should devote at least a sec- 
tion of your work to the agency of the Negro in helping to preserve 
and to perpetuate and to popularize old-world lyrics — English and 
Scottish folk-songs that drifted across with our forbears and are not 
the products of Negro genius. " I was delighted to find corrobora- 
tion of my conclusions in such a quarter, and am indebted to Profes- 
sor Smith for much information of value concerning this point. 

To discuss this subject adequately would require research work 
and writing more extensive than I have time for now, and so I can 
hope only to give a suggestion as to the material, and leave it to some 
investigator who can spend much time in the field, to work it out in 
detail. 

To understand this phenomenon we have to recall the history of 
our colonization, and remember that the South was settled largely by 
Cavaliers and Scotch people, both of whom loved song. Folk-songs 
took up no room in the ships that crossed the ocean to this adventur- 



34 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

ous land, but they were among the most precious of the cargo that 
came over, and they have survived through the years, through the 
poverty, the hardships, and all the struggles of pioneer life, better 
than the material goods that accompanied them. While the hearts 
that cherished them, the lips that sang them, are indistinguishable 
dust, these songs live on. Students of balladry know that America is 
still rich in the traditional songs of the old country, that in remote 
mountain sections of the South to-day there is perhaps a rarer heri- 
tage of English and Scotch folk-songs actually being sung from oral 
tradition than in any part of Great Britain. The old songs and bal- 
lads have been lovingly remembered, transmitted orally from gener- 
ation to generation, with variations such as inevitably come in a 
change of surroundings and social conditions. The old songs are 
alive among us, and the American versions are distinctive, as true to 
the traditions as those handed down on the other side of the water, 
though differing from them in details. 

In the early days on the plantations in the South, when books and 
newspapers were less plentiful than now, songs formed a larger part 
of the social life than they do at present. At the "great house" the 
loved old ballads would be sung over and over, till the house ser- 
vants, being quick of memory and of apt musical ear, would learn 
them, then pass them on in turn to their brethren of the fields. This 
process would be altogether oral, since the slaves were not taught to 
read or write, save in exceptional cases, and their communication 
with each other and with the outside world would of necessity be by 
the spoken word. 

By cabin firesides, as before the great hearths in big houses, the 
old songs would be learned by the little folk as part of their natural 
heritage, to be handed down to their children and their children's 
children. Such a survival among the Negroes was remarkable, far 
more so than song-preservation among the whites, who in many in- 
stances kept old ballads by writing them down in notebooks, and 
learning them from old broadsides or keepsake volumes; while the 
Negroes had none of these aids, but had to sing each song as they 
learned it from hearing others sing it, and must remember it of them- 
selves. And yet they cherished the old songs and had their own ver- 
sions of them. 

My first find of folk-material of this sort made a great impres- 
sion on my mind. Some years ago I was sitting on the porch of my 
sister's home in Virginia, talking with a young colored maid who 
loafed on the steps. It was a warm summer afternoon when neither 
of us felt inclined to exertion, and Lucy was entertaining me with 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 35 

songs and stories of her race. She told of a certain mountain section 
in North Carolina, where lived some people whom she described 
mysteriously: "Dey ain't niggers an' dey ain't whites. And yet you 
can't scarcely say dat dey's mulattoes. Dey is called by a curi's 
name — Ishies. Dey lives off to demselves an' sho is funny folks." 

I learned later that the term used to designate them was "Free 
Issue," since they were the offspring of Negroes who were not slaves, 
and so these mulattoes, or their ancestors, had been born free. 

The girl sat idly swinging her foot, and gazing across the lake, 
when suddenly she said, "I'll sing you a song about the Hangman's 
Tree." 

She then gave a lively rendering of a ballad I had never heard sung 
before, making vivid gestures to dramatize her words. I asked 
Lucy to write it down for me, and here is her version, just as she 
copied it, with her own " stage directions " : 

(Spies Father at a distance, and sings) 
Hangman, hangman, hangman, 
Loosen your rope. 
I think I spy my father coming. 
He has come many a long mile, I know. 

(To Father) 
Father, have you come? 
And have you come at last? 
And have you brought my gold? 
And will you pay my fee? 
Or is it your intention to see me hung 
Here all under this willow tree? 

(Father to Son) 
Yes, I 've come, I 've come. 
I have not brought your gold. 
I will not pay your fee. 
'T is my intention to see you hung 
Here all under this willow tree. 

(Spies Mother) 
Hangman, hangman, hangman, 
Loosen your rope. 
I think I spy my mother coming. 
She has come many a long mile, I know. 

(To Mother) 
Mother, have you come? 
And have you come at last? 



36 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

And have you brought my gold? 
And will you pay my fee? 
Or is it your intention to see me hung 
Here all under this willow tree? 

(Mother to Son) 
Yes, I 've come, I 've come. 
I have not brought your gold. 
I will not pay your fee. 
'T is my intention to see you hung 
Here all under this willow tree. 

(Spies Brother) 
Hangman, hangman, hangman, 
Loosen your rope. 
I think I spy my brother coming. 
He has come many a long weary mile, I know. 

(To Brother) 
Brother, have you come? 
And have you come at last? 
And have you brought my gold? 
And will you pay my fee? 
Or is it your intention to see me hung 
Here all under this willow tree? 

(Brother to Brother) 
Yes, I 've come, I 've come. 
I have not brought your gold. 
I will not pay your fee. 
'T is my intention to see you hung 
Here all under this willow tree. 

(Spies Sister) 
Hangman, hangman, hangman, 
Loosen your rope. 
I think I spy my sister coming. 
She has come many a long weary mile, I know. 

(To Sister) 
Sister, have you come? 
And have you come at last? 
And have you brought my gold? 
And will you pay my fee? 
Or is it your intention to see me hung 
Here all under this willow tree? 






TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 37 

{Sister to Brother) 
Yes, I 've come, I 've come. 
I have not brought your gold. 
I will not pay your fee. 
5 T is my intention to see you hung 
Here all under this willow tree. 

{Spies Lover) 
Lover, have you come? 
And have you come at last? 
And have you brought my gold? 
And will you pay my fee? 
Or is it your intention to see me hung 
Here all under this willow tree? 

{To the Loved One, his Answer) 
Yes, I 've come, I 've come. 
I 've brought your gold, 
I '11 pay your fee. 

'T is not my intention to see you hung 
Here all under this willow tree. 
{Locked arms and walked happily away) 

I askedjLucy where she learned that, and she said, "Oh, the col- 
ored folks sing it. We've known it always." 

When I inquired if she got it from a book or from hearing some 
white person sing it, she answered: "No, us colored folks jes' know it. 
It's jes' been sorter handed down amongst us. I don't know when I 
learned it." 

She told me that Negro children sometimes made a little play of it 
and acted it out in parts. I was interested in her dramatic and vivid 
presentation of it, and in the fact that it was obviously not a natu- 
ral part of the Negro repertoire; but the significance of the general 
knowledge of it among the Negroes did not impress me so much then 
as later. She could not give me any explanation for the girl's sentence 
to the gallows. "It jes' happened so." Nor did she know any plau- 
sible reason why her relatives should spurn her, and her True Love 
prove faithful when her own mother rejected her. All she knew was 
that it was an old song that they had always sung. 

Students of folk-song will readily recognize this as the old English 
ballad, The Maid Freed from the Gallows, the American version of 
which has the title, The Hangman's Tree. The English version, 
No. 95 in Child's Collection, is from the "Percy Papers," given by 
the Reverend P. Parsons, of Wye, in 1770, from oral tradition. The 



38 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Scotch version has a stronger ending, for in it the maiden roundly 
accuses her delinquent relatives and invokes spirited curses upon 
them. Child says that there are many versions of this familiar ballad 
theme, from both northern and southern Europe. One tradition 
is that of a young woman captured by the corsairs, who demand 
heavy ransom, which her own family refuse to pay but which her 
lover gladly gives. Another tradition holds that the story is all alle- 
gory, the golden ball signifying a maiden's honor, which when lost 
can be restored to her only by her lover. That would explain the 
sentence of death ; for, in old times, death by burning or hanging was 
the penalty for unchastity on the part of a maid or wife. 

Miss M. A. Owen gives a different and more dialectic Negro ver- 
sion in "Old Rabbit, the Voodoo," the story of a Negro child to 
whom a golden ball is given at her birth by a "conjur man." He 
warns that she must never break the string which binds the ball 
about her neck. But she does break it, and the ball by its magic 
turns her into a beautiful white girl. The child's mother dies and a 
step -mother steals the ball, whereupon the girl is changed back into 
a Negro. As if that were not enough, she is accused of having 
murdered the white girl, who is now, of course, missing. She is 
sentenced to death, and appeals to her father. 

Oh, daddy, find dat golden ball, 

Ur yo' see me hung 'pun de gallus-tree ! 

But father does not aid, for "he go by," and all her relatives in turn 
fail her. In this case even her "beau" turns his back upon her, and 
she is about to be hanged. At the last moment the magician appears, 
disguised as a "beggar-man," and restores the golden ball to the girl, 
whereupon her fairness and beauty return. The beggar himself 
changes on the spot to a handsome young man, who vanishes with 
the girl into the side of a hill. 

Professor Smith writes later : " It was a matter of profound interest 
to me to learn that The Hangman's Tree, or The Maid Freed from the 
Gallows, had been dramatized by the Negroes and was being played 
in many remote sections of Virginia. So far as I know, this was the 
first instance on record of the popular dramatization of a ballad in 
this country. 

"Nothing has interested me more in the quest of the ballad than 
to find that for, doubtless, hundreds of years the Negroes have been 
singing and acting this haunting old ballad and nobody knew any- 
thing about it. In addition to the evidence adduced in my article, I 
have a letter from Mrs. Robert R. Moton, wife of the former presi- 
dent of Hampton, now Tuskegee, dated December 2, 191 5, saying: 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 39 

' When I was a child in Gloucester County, they used it as a game.' I 
have also a Negro version from Nelson County and an interesting 
account of its use there as a game among Negroes." 

Another version, differing in the important respect that the sex of 
the condemned one has been changed, was given me by Mr. Edwin 
Swain, a baritone singer, now of New York City, but formerly of 
Florida. This is interesting as an example of the way in which 
changes may come. Mr. Swain says that in his childhood in Florida 
he saw the Negroes act out this song at an entertainment in the 
Negro schoolhouse. He gave a vivid account of the dramatization. 
The condemned — here a man instead of a woman (a curious change 
to take place in the case of a ballad whose title is The Maid Freed 
from the Gallows) — was all ready for hanging, with a real rope fas- 
tened round his neck. The hangman held the other end of the rope 
in his hand, ready to jerk the victim to his fate. The victim, a large 
black man, appealed for mercy, begged for a few minutes' reprieve, 
on the ground that he saw his father coming; but the father 
sternly repudiated him in gesture and song. His mother was equally 
obdurate, and likewise the brother and sister. The stage was fairly 
crowded with cold-hearted relatives — for Negroes in their singing 
love to reach out to all remote branches of relationship. At last the 
man begged for one more minute, for he saw his "True Love" com- 
ing. True Love came in, a yellow woman dressed in white, with a 
box of money, and dramatically won his release. 

Mr. Swain's version goes as follows: 

HANGMAN, SLACK ON THE LINE 



I 



* 






-Pv=fv 



Hangman, hangman, slack on the line, Slack on the line a little while, I 






w 



think I see my fath - er com-ing with mon-ey to pay my fine. 

" Hangman, hangman, slack on the line, 
Slack on the line a little while. 
I think I see my father coming 
With money to pay my fine. 

" Oh, father, father, did you bring me money, 
Money to pay my fine? 
Or did you come here to see me die 
On this hangman's line? " 



40 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

" No, I did n't bring you any money, 
Money to pay your fine, 
But I just came here to see you die 
Upon this hangman's line." 

" Hangman, hangman, slack on the line, 
Slack on the line a little while. 
I think I see my mother coming 
With money to pay my fine. 

" Oh, mother, mother, did you bring me any money, 
Money to pay my fine? 
Or did you just come here to see me die 
Upon this hangman's line? " 

" No, I did n't bring you any money, 
Money to pay your fine, 
But I just came here to see you die 
Upon this hangman's line." 

" Hangman, hangman, slack on the fine, 
Slack on the line a little while; 
For I think I see my brother coming 
With money to pay my fine. 

" Oh, brother, brother, did you bring me any money, 
Money to pay my fine? 
Or did you just come here to see me die 
Upon this hangman's line? " 

" No, I did n't bring you any money, 
Money to pay your fine, 
But I just came here to see you die 
Upon this hangman's line." 

" Hangman, hangman, slack on the line, 
Slack on the line a little while; 
For I think I see my sister coming 
With money to pay my fine. 

" Oh, sister, sister, did you bring me any money, 
Money to pay my fine? 
Or did you just come here to see me die 
Upon this hangman's line? " 

" No, I did n't bring you any money, 
Money to pay your fine, 
But I just came here to see you die 
Upon this hangman's line." 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 41 

" Hangman, hangman, slack on the line, 
Slack on the line a little while. 
I think I see my true love coming 
With money to pay my fine. 

" Oh, True Love, True Love, did you bring me any money, 
Money to pay my fine? 
Or did you just come here to see me die 
Upon this hangman's line? " 

" True Love, I got gold and silver, 
Money to pay your fine. 
How could I bear to see you die 
Upon this hangman's line?" 

I found another version which differs somewhat in minor details 
from Mr. Swain's, but like his has the central character a man in- 
stead of a woman. This was given to me by Mrs. Esther Finlay 
Hoevey, of New Orleans, through the courtesy of Miss Richardson, 
of Sophy Newcomb College. This was remembered from the singing 
of an old Negro woman, who had in her youth been put up on the 
slave block in Mobile and sold down the river. In this, as in Mr. 
Swain's version, the condemned is a man and True Love a woman. 

" Hangman, hangman, slack the rope, 
Slack the rope a while; 
For I think I see my father coming, 
Coming for many a mile. 

" Oh, my father, have you paid my fine, 
Brought your gold along? 
Or have you come here to-night for to see me hung, 
Hung on the gallows tree? " 

" No, my son, I have not paid your fine, 
I 've brought no gold along, 
But I've just come to see you hung, 
Hung on the gallows tree." 

" Hangman, hangman, slack the rope, 
Slack the rope a while; 
For I think I see my mother coming, 
Coming for many a mile. 

41 Oh, my mother, have you paid my fine, 
Brought your gold along? 
Or have you come here to-night for to see me hung, 
Hung on the gallows tree? " 



42 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

The mother refuses also, and after that the sister and brother. 
Then the hangman is implored to slack the rope, for True Love is 
coming. 

" True Love, True Love, have you paid my fine, 
Brought your gold along? 
Or have you come here to-night for to see me hung, 
Hung on the gallows tree? " 

" True Love, True Love, I have paid your fine, 
I 've brought my gold along, 
I Ve come here to-night for to set you free, 
Free from the gallows tree." 

This old ballad, which survives in England also under the title 
The Prickly Bush, or The Briary Bush (from which Floyd Dell 
takes the title for his novel) , with a chorus not found in the American 
variants, has, as Professor Smith says in his article referred to 
above, become peculiarly the property of Negroes, at least in Vir- 
ginia. He gives a variant received from a Negro girl in Gloucester 
County, who " learned it from her grandmother," in which the 
treasure is a golden comb instead of a ball. 

" Oh, hangman, hold your holts, I pray, 
O hold your holts a while; 
I think I see my grandmother 
A-coming down the road. 

" Oh, have you found my golden comb, 
And have you come to set me free? 
Or have you come to see me hanged 
On the cruel hangman tree? " 

Another variant, which he gives as coming from Franklin County, 
shows, as in the case of Mr. Swain's version from Florida and that 
from Louisiana, the victim as a man. 

" Oh hangerman, hangerman, slack on your rope 
And wait a little while; 
I think I see my father coming 

And he's travelled for many a long mile." 

Maximilian Foster has told me of a different version, which he heard 
companies of Negro soldiers in France singing, but which he has not 
been able to round up for me. 

All these versions, different in each state, and each showing differ- 
ence from the others, are true to the oral tradition which keeps the 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



43 



story and the spirit of a ballad but changes the wording. ♦ The Ne- 
groes would be particularly attracted to this ballad because of its 
simple structure and its dramatic story. It is easy to remember, for 
its repetitions proceed regularly. 

My next ballad discovery was made in Waco, Texas, when I was 
seeking material for an article on " Negro Ballets and Reels," for the 
Texas Folk-lore Association. I was wandering about in the suburbs 
of South Waco, in the Negro section, dropping in at various places. 
I passed by a cabin where an old woman sat on the steps, rocking a 
baby to sleep. The garden was neat with rows of vegetables and 
gay with old-fashioned flowers, Johnny-jump-ups, pinks, larkspur, 
petunias, and in the back the line showed snowy clothes drying in the 
sun. The old woman was crooning something to the child, as she 
swayed her body back and forth. 

I turned in at the gate. 

"How do you do?" I said. " That's a nice baby." 

" Howdy, mistis," she answered cordially. "Yas'm, dat's mah 
great-grandchild. Ain't he a buster? " 

"What was that song you were singing to him?" I inquired, as I 
sat down on an upturned box. 

" Oh, dat 's jes' an old thing, I don't recollict de name of it. I doan' 
know, in fac', ef it has ary name." 

"Won't you please sing it for me, mammy?" I begged. 

"Oh, I ain't kin sing wuth speaking of," she demurred. "I done 
los' mah voice." 

"Oh, please, sing it for me." 

And so she sang her version of the old ballad, Lady Isabel and the 
Elf Knight: 



LADY ISABEL AND THE ELF KNIGHT 



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There was a tall an' handsome man, Who come a - court-in* me . . 

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44 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

There was a tall an 7 handsome man, 

Who come a-courtin' me. 
He said, " Steal out atter dark to-night 

An' come a-ridin' with me, with me, 

An' come a-ridin' with me. 

"An' you may ride your milk-white steed 
An' I my apple bay." 
We rid out from my mother's house 
Three hours befo' de day, de day, 
Three hours befo' de day. 

I mounted on my milk-white steed 

And he rode his apple bay. 
We rid on til we got to the ocean, 

An' den my lover say, lover say, 

An' den my lover say : 

"Sit down, sit down, sweetheart," he say, 
"An' listen you to me. 
Pull off dat golden robe you wears 
An' fold hit on yo' knee, yo' knee, 
An' fold hit on yo' knee." 

I ax him why my golden robe 
Must be folded on his knee. 

"It is too precious to be rotted away 
By the salt water sea, water sea, 
By the salt water sea." 

I say, "Oh, sweetheart, carry me back home, 

My mother for to see, 
For I 'm af eared I '11 drowned be 

In this salt water sea, water sea, 

In this salt water sea." 

He tuck my hand and drug me in 



I say, "Oh, sweetheart, take me back! 
The water 's up to my feet, my feet, 
The water's up to my feet." 

He smile at me an' draw me on. 

"Come on, sweetheart, sweetheart, 
We soon will be across the stream, 

We 've reached the deepest part, deepest part, 

We've reached the deepest part." 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 45 

As I went on I cry an' say, 

"The water's up to my knees! 
Oh, take me home! I'm afeared to be drowned 

In this salt water sea, water sea, 

In this salt water sea." 

He pull me on an' say, " Sweetheart, 

Lay all your fears aside. 
We soon will be across it now 

We Ve reached the deepest tide, deepest tide, 

We've reached the deepest tide." 

I sank down in the stream an' cry, 

"The water's up to my waist." 
He pull at me an' drug me on; 

He say, "Make haste, make haste, make haste." 

He say, "Make haste, make haste." 

I cry to him, "The water's up to my neck." 

"Lay all your fears aside. 
We soon will be across it now, 

We 've reached the deepest tide, deepest tide, 

We've reached the deepest tide." 



I caught hoi' of de tail of my milk-white steed, 

He was drowned wid his apple bay. 
I pulled out of de water an' landed at my mother's house 

An hour befo' de day, de day, 

An hour befo' de day. 

My mother say, "Pretty Polly, who is dat, 

A-movin' softily?" 
An' I say to my Polly, "Pretty Polly, 

Don't you tell no tales on me, on me, 

Don't you tell no tales on me." 

An' my mother say, "Is dat you, Polly? 

Up so early befo' day? " 
"Oh, dat mus' be a kitty at yo' door," 

Is all my Polly say, Polly say, 

Is all my Polly say. 

There were gaps in the singing, for she said she could not remember 
it all, she was "so oP now." I asked her where she learned it ; she told 
me, "My mammy used to sing hit when I was a child. I doan' know 
where she larned hit." 

She could not read or write, nor could her mother, and so this was 



46 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

undoubtedly a case of oral transmission. Her use of such expressions 
as "apple bay" for "dapple gray" is naively interesting. This is 
more like version H, No. 4 in Child's Collection, than any other. 

The change to the first person here is noteworthy. While one dis- 
tinguishing trait of a ballad is its impersonality, the Negroes are fond 
of the dramatic "I." 

In the course of my search for "ballets and reels," I was given a 
song learned from black mammies, which is obviously not of Negro 
origin, but dates back to England centuries ago. I located it through 
the aid of the "Analytical Index to the Ballad Entries in the Register 
of the London Company of Stationers," by Professor Hyder E. 
Rollins, of New York University, as having been registered Novem- 
ber 21, 1580, and spoken of as A Moste Strange Weddinge of the 
Frogge and the Mouse. Professor Kittredge, of Harvard, mentions 
its antiquity and interest in the Journal of American Folk-lore, xxxv, 
394. This lively old tale of the Frog Went A-Courtm' is widely 
current among colored people in the South, used by many a ban- 
dannaed mammy to reconcile her restless charge to slumber. The 
version was given me by Dorothy Renick, of Waco, Texas, as sung 
for her often in her childhood, by Negro mammies who, she said, 
never sang the stanzas twice in the same of order, but varied them 
to suit the whim the moment. 

Frog Went A-Courtin' 

Frog went a-courtin', he did ride, 

Uh — hum! 
Frog went a-courtin', he did ride, 
Sword and pistol by his side, 

Uh — hum! 

Rode up to Lady Mouse's hall, 

Uh — hum! 
Rode up to Lady Mouse's hall, 
Gave a loud knock and gave a loud call, 

Uh — hum! 

Lady Mouse come a-trippin' down, 

Uh — hum! 
Lady Mouse came a-trippin' down, 
Green glass slippers an' a silver gown, 

Uh — hum! 

Froggie knelt at Mousie's knee, 

Uh — hum! 
Froggie knelt at Mousie's knee, 
Said, "Pray, Miss Mouse, will you marry me?" 

Uh — hum' 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 47 

"Not without Uncle Rat's consent," 

Uh — hum! 
" Not without Uncle Rat's consent 
Would I marry the president," 

Uh — hum! 

Uncle Rat he went down town, 

Uh — hum! 
Uncle Rat he went down town 
To buy his niece a weddin' gown, 

Uh — hum! 

Where shall the wedding supper be? 

Uh — hum! 
Where shall the wedding supper be? 
Way down yonder in a hollow tree, 

Uh — hum! 

First come in was little seed tick, 

Uh — hum! 
First come in was little seed tick, 
Walkin' wid a hick'ry stick, 

Uh — hum! 

Next come in was a bumberly bee, 

Uh — hum! 
Next come in was a bumberly bee, 
To help Miss Mouse po' out the tea, 

Uh — hum! 

Next come in was a big black snake, 

Uh — hum! 
Next come in was a big black snake, 
In his mouth was a wedding cake, 

Uh — hum! 

Next come in was Uncle Rat, 

Uh — hum! 
Next come in was Uncle Rat, 
With some apples in his hat, 

Uh — hum! 

What shall the wedding supper be? 

Uh — hum! 
What shall the wedding supper be? 
Catnip broth and dogwood tea, 

Uh — hum! 



48 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Then Frog come a-swimmin', over the lake, 

Uh — hum! 
Then Frog come a-swimmin' over the lake, 
He got swallowed by a big black snake, 

Uh — hum! 

Another Texas version, words and music, was given me by Ella 
Oatman, who remembers the song from having heard it in her child- 
hood. 

Froggy went a-courtin', he did ride, 

Umph — humph ! 
Froggy went a-courtin', he did ride, 
A sword and pistol by his side, 
Umph — humph ! 

He came to Lady Mousie's door, 

Umph — humph ! 
He came to Lady Mousie's door, 
He knocked and he knocked till his thumb got sore, 

Umph — humph ! 

He took Lady Mousie on his knee, 

Umph — humph ! 
He took Lady Mousie on his knee, 
He says, "Lady Mouse, will you marry me?" 

Umph — humph ! 

Oh, where shall the wedding supper be? 

Umph — humph ! 
Oh, where shall the wedding supper be? 
Way over yonder in a hollow tree, 

Umph — humph ! 

Oh, what shall the wedding supper be? 

Umph — humph ! 
Oh, what shall the wedding supper be? 
Two blue beans and a black-eyed pea, 

Umph — humph ! 

Still another variant was given me by Louise Laurense, of Shelby- 
ville, Kentucky, who says that her mother learned it in her child- 
hood from Negroes in Kentucky. 

Mister Frog 

Mister Frog went a-courtin', he did ride, 

Umph — humph ! 
Mister Frog went a-courtin', he did ride, 
A sword and pistol by his side, 

Umph — humph ! 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



49 



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He rode up to Miss Mouse's hall, 

Umph — humph ! 
He rode up to Miss Mouse's hall, 
Long and loudly did he call, 

Umph — humph ! 

Said he, "Miss Mouse, are you within?" 

Umph — humph ! 
Said he, "Miss Mouse, are you within?" 
"Oh, yes, kind sir, I sit and spin," 

Umph — humph ! 

He took Miss Mousie on his knee, 

Umph — humph ! 
He took Miss Mousie on his knee, 
Said he, "Miss Mouse, will you marry me?" 

Umph — humph ! 

Miss Mousie blushed and she hung down her head, 

Umph — humph ! 
Miss Mousie blushed and she hung down her head. 
"You'll have to ask Uncle Rat," she said, 

Umph — humph ! 

Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides, 

Umph — humph ! 
Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides, 
To think his niece would be a bride, 

Umph — humph ! 

Where shall the wedding supper be? 

Umph — humph ! 
Where shall the wedding supper be? 
Way down yonder in a hollow tree, 

Umph — humph ! 



SO NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

What shall the wedding supper be? 

Umph — humph ! 
What shall the wedding supper be? 
Two big beans and a black-eye pea, 

Umph — humph ! 

The first that came was a possum small, 

Umph — humph ! 
The first that came was a possum small, 
A- to tin' his house upon his tail, 

Umph — humph ! 

The next that came was a bumberly bee, 

Umph — humph ! 
The next that came was a bumberly bee, 
Bringing his fiddle upon his knee, 

Umph — humph ! 

The next that came was a broken-backed flea, 

Umph — humph ! 
The next that came was a broken-backed flea, 
To dance a jog with the bumberly bee, 

Umph — humph ! 

The next that came was an old grey cat, 

Umph — humph ! 
The next that came was an old grey cat, 
She swallowed the mouse and ate up the rat, 

Umph — humph ! 

Mr. Frog went a-hopping over the brook, 

Umph — humph ! 
Mr. Frog went a-hopping over the brook, 
A lily-white duck came and gobbled him up, 

Umph — humph ! 

Dr. Charles C. Carroll, of New Orleans, Louisiana, gave another 
variant, which his mother had heard from Negro slaves. So there are 
versions from three different states, showing points of difference, but 
each retaining the real tradition of the story and music. It is easy to 
imagine that the preservation of this entertaining and touching story 
of Froggy 's fate was due to the pleasure that children took in it, for 
it seems always to have been sung to children by older people, and to 
have been retained as a nursery song. 

Another delightful old song, of ancient tradition, Ole Bangum, was 
given me by Mrs. Landon Randolph Dashiell, of Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, who sends it " as learned from years of memory and iteration. " 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



51 



The music was written down from Mrs. DashielPs singing by Shep- 
ard Webb, also of Richmond. Mrs. Dashiell says that her Negro 
mammy used to sing it to her, and that the song was so indissolubly 
associated with the sleepy time that she doubted if she could sing it 
for me unless she took me in her lap and rocked me to sleep by it. 



OLD BANGUM 



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Ole Bang-um, will you hunt an' ride ? Dil - lum down dil - lum ? Ole 



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Bang-um, will you hunt an* ride? Dil - lum down? 



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Bang-um, will you hunt an' ride, Sword an' pist - ol by yo* side? 



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Ole Bangum, will you hunt an' ride? 

Dillum down dillum? 
Ole Bangum, will you hunt an' ride? 

Dillum down? 
Ole Bangum, will you hunt an' ride, 
Sword an' pistol by yo' side? 

Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

There is a wiP bo' in these woods, 

Dillum down dillum. 
There is a wiP bo' in these woods, 

Dillum down. 
There is a wiP bo' in these woods 
Eats men's bones and drinks their blood. 
Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

Ole Bangum drew his wooden knife, 

Dillum down dillum. 
Ole Bangum drew his wooden knife, 

Dillum down. 



52 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Ole Bangum drew his wooden knife 
An' swore by Jove he 'd take his life. 
Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

Ole Bangum went to de wiF bo's den, 

Dillum down d ilium. 
Ole Bangum went to de wiF bo's den, 

Dillum down. 
Ole Bangum went to de wiF bo's den, 
An' foun' de bones of a thousand men. 
Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

They fought fo' hours in that day, 

Dillum down dillum. 
They fought fo' hours in that day, 

Dillum down. 
They fought fo' hours in that day, 
The wiF bo' fled an' slunk away. 
Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

Ole Bangum, did you win or lose? 

Dillum down dillum? 
Ole Bangum, did you win or lose? 

Dillum down. 
Ole Bangum, did you win or lose? 
He swore by Jove he 'd won the shoes. 
Cubbi Ki, cuddle dum 

Killi quo quam. 

Professor Kittredge speaks of this song in a discussion in the 
Journal of American Folk-lore. Mrs. Case says: "Both General 
Taylor and President Madison were great-great-grandchildren of 
James Taylor, who came from Carlisle, England, to Orange County, 
Virginia, in 1638, and both were hushed to sleep by their Negro 
mammies with the strains of Bangum and the Boar." The version he 
gives is different in some respects from that given by Mrs. Dashiell. 

I am indebted to Mrs. Dashiell for the words and music of another 
ballad of ancient tradition, A Little Boy Threw His Ball So High, of 
which she says: "I give it just as my childhood heard it. The old 
nigger always said dusky for dusty, and I really think she showed 
great discernment, as ' dusky garden filled with snow' and ' dusky 
well' seem more appropriate and probably more horrible." This also 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



53 



was learned from the singing of her Negro mammy, who rocked her 
to sleep by it. "Imagine innocence going to sleep after such a lul- 
laby!" Mrs. Dashiell comments. 

A LITTLE BOY THREW HIS BALL 



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neith-er come hither, I'll neith-er come there, I'll not come get my ball. 

A little boy threw his ball so high, 

He threw his ball so low. 
He threw it into a dusky garden 

Among the blades of snow. 

" Come hither, come hither, my sweet little boy; 
Come hither and get your ball." 
"I'll neither come hither, I'll neither come there, 
I'll not come get my ball." 

She showed him an apple as yellow as gold, 

She showed him a bright gold ring, 
She showed him a cherry as red as blood, 

And that enticed him in. 



Enticed him into the drawing-room 
And then into the kitchen, 

And there he saw his own dear nurse 
A-pi-i-icking a chicken! 



54 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

"I've been washing this basin the live-long day 
To catch your heart's blood in." 
"Pray spare my life, pray spare my life, 
Pray spare my life!" cried he. 

"I'll not spare your life, I'll not spare your life," cried she. 



"Pray put my Bible at my head, 
My prayer-book at my feet. 
If any of my playmates ask for me, 
Oh, tell them I'm dead and asleep." 

She dragged him on his cooling-board, 

And stabbed him like a sheep. 
She threw him into a dusky well 

Where many have fallen asleep. 

This is recognizable as the old ballad, The Jew's Daughter, telling 
a tale of the supposed murder of a little boy by a Jewess. Matthew 
Prior refers to the occasion which is thought to form the basis for 
this, as of the date of 1255. Chaucer uses the plot for his "Prioresse's 
Tale," the piteous story of the innocent done to death. 

William Wells Newell, in his " Games and Songs of American 
Children," gives another variant, called Little Harry Hughes, and 
says that he was surprised to hear a group of colored children in the 
streets of New York singing it. He questioned the children and 
traced their knowledge of the song to a little Negro girl who had 
learned it from her grandmother. The grandmother, he found, had 
learned it in Ireland. 

Professor Smith gives an interesting version, which was given to 
him by a student at the University of Virginia, who had learned it 
from his Negro mammy on a plantation in Alabama. 

My ball flew over in a Jew 's garden, 

Where no one dared to go. 
I saw a Jew lady in a green silk dress 

A-standin' by the do'. 

"O come in, come in, my pretty little boy, 
You may have your ball again." 
"I won't, I won't, I won't come in, 
Because my heart is blood." 

She took me then by her lily-white hand, 

And led me in the kitchen, 
She sot me down on a golden plank, 

And stobbed me like a sheep. 






TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



55 



"You lay my Bible at my head, 

And my prayer-book at my feet, 
And if any of my playmates ask for me, 
Just tell them I've gone to sleep." 

This was published in the University of Virginia Magazine, De- 
cember, 191 2, and also in Professor Smith's article in the Musical 
Quarterly. 

It is interesting that the Negro variant that Mrs. Dashiell knew 
has discarded the element of Jewish persecution and transformed 
the theme into a general terror tale, while the Negro version from 
Alabama has retained the older motivation. Since the Negroes have 
not been associated directly with any idea of Jews murdering Chris- 
tians in this fashion, it is natural that the theme should fade away in 
their rendering of the song. Here, as in the version of Lady Isabel 
and the Elf-Knight, the ballad form is changed to the first person. 

Lord Lovel, as might be expected of one of the best-known bal- 
lads, appears in a Negro version in North Carolina. It was taken 
down from the singing of Mr. Busbee, who learned it in his childhood 
from his Negro nurse, Mammy Mahaly. 



LORD LOVEL 



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Lord Lov-el, he stood at his cas - tie wall, A-comb-in' his milk-white 



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wish her fond lov-er good speed, speed, speed, To wish her fond lover good speed. 



Lord Lovel, he stood at his castle wall, 

A-combin' his milk-white steed; 
Lady Nancy Bell came a-ridin' by, 

To wish her fond lover good speed, speed, speed, 

To wish her fond lover good speed. 

"Oh, where are you goin', Lord Lovel?" she said. 

"Oh, where are you goin'?" said she. 
"I'm goin' away for a year an' a day, 

Strange countries for to see, see, see, 

Strange countries for to see." 



56 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

He had n't been gone but a year an' a day, 

Strange countries for to see, 
When very strange thoughts came into his head 

About his Lady Nancy-cy-cy, 

About his Lady Nancy. 

He rode an' he rode all a long summer day, 

Till he came to London town. 
An' there he met a funeral, 

An' the people a-mournin' around, round, round, 

An' the people a-mournin' around. 

"Oh, who is dead?" Lord Lovel he said, 
"Oh, who is dead?" said he. 
"It's my lord's lady," an old woman said, 
"Some call her the Lady Nancy-cy-cy, 
Some call her the Lady Nancy." 

He ordered the bier to be opened wide, 
The shroud to be folded down. 

An' then he kissed her clay-cold lips, 

An' the tears they come trinklin' down, down, down, 
An' the tears they come trinklin' down. 

Lady Nancy she died as it mought be to-day, 

Lord Lovel he died to-morrow. 
Lady Nancy she dies outen pure, pure grief, 

Lord Lovel he died outen sorrow-row-row, 

Lord Lovel he died outen sorrow. 

Lady Nancy they buried by the tall church spire, 

Lord Lovel they buried beside her. 
And outen her bosom they grew a red rose, 

And outen his'n a brier-rier-rier, 

And outen his'n a brier. 

They grew an' they grew to the tall steeple top, 

An' there they could get no higher. 
An' there they entwined in a true lovers' knot, 

Which all true lovers admire-rire-rire, 

Which all true lovers admire. 

Miss Lucy T. Latane reports a version entitled Lord Lovell and 
Lady Nancy Bell, which her mother and aunt learned from their 
Negro mammy in Louisa County, Virginia, in the forties. 

A Negro version of the story of the Babes in the Wood was given 
to me by Talmadge Marsh, of Straight College, New Orleans, 
through the courtesy of Worth Tuttle Hedden. Talmadge says that 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 57 

his old aunt used to sing this to him. She sang it to various tunes, 
none of which he remembers well enough to reproduce. 

Once upon a time, long, long ago, 

Two little babes were lost in the woods. 

They wandered and wandered all through the woods. 

The sun went down, and the moon gave no light. 

The two little babes they died in the woods. 

Then a robin came whose breast was so red, 

He spread green leaves over the dead babies. 

And this is the song that he did sing. 

Two little babes were lost in the woods. 

The sun went down and the moon gave no light. 

And the two little babes, they died in the woods. 1 

A Negro song, which is a version of Three Jolly Welshmen, an old 
English song, was given me by Mrs. J. S. Diggs, of Lynchburg, Vir- 
ginia, as she says that this is a very old song and that it was sung 
years ago by Negroes in Campbell and Bedford Counties. 

So We Hunted and We Hollered 

So we hunted and we hollered, 

And the first thing we did find 
Was a barn in the meadow, 

And that we left behind. 

One said it was a barn, 
And the other said, "Nay!" 
They all said a church 
With the steeple washed away. 

So we hunted and we hollered 

And the next thing we did find 
Was a cow in the meadow, 

And that we left behind. 

One said it was a cow, 
And the other said, "Nay!" 
One said, "It's an elephant 
With the snout washed away." 

1 This is a version of an old children's song, printed in America as early as 1818, to 
which Professor Kittredge gives a number of references in the Journal of American Folk- 
lore, xxxv, 349, in connection with a report of it in an article by Albert H. Tolman and 
Mary O. Eddy. The ballad is found in Percy's Reliques. 



58 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

So we hunted and we hollered 

And the next thing we did find 
Was an owl in the ivy bush, 

And that we left behind. 

One said it was an owl, 
And the other said, "Nay! " 
One said it was the devil, 
And we all ran away. 

The Forum (Philadelphia Press, March, 1908) gives a song, called 
Old Circus Song, as sung in Alabama by Negroes seventy years 
ago, which is evidently a variant of the song Mrs. Diggs learned in 
Virginia. 

Old Circus Song 

I went a-whooping and a-hollering, for the first thing I could find 
Was a frog in a well, and that I left behind. 
Some said, "It's a frog," but I said, "Nay!" 
Some said "It's a sea-bird with its feathers torn away. 
Look a- there, now!" 

I went a-whooping and a-hollering, for the next thing I could find 
Was an ice-pond in the meadow, and that I left behind. 
Some said, "It's an ice-pond," but I said, "Nay!" 
Some said, "It's a pane of glass, but it's nearly washed away. 
Look a- there, now!" 

I went a-whooping and a-hollering, for the next thing I could find 
Was an old house on the hill-top, and that I left behind. 
Some said, "It's an old house," but I said, "Nay!" 
Some said, "It's a barn, but it's nearly rotted away. 
Look a- there, now!" 

I went a-whooping and a-hollering, for the next thing I could find 
Was an owl in a thorn- tree, and that I left behind. 
Some said, "It's an owl," but I said, "Nay!" 
Some said, "It's the devil, and let us run away! 
Look a- there, now ! " 1 

1 Professor Kittredge writes: "Similar version in Cox, ' Folk-Songs of the South/ No. 
165, where I have given a number of references. That the song was known as early as 
1668 is shown by a passage from Davenant's comedy, The Rivals (licensed and printed 
in that year), Act 3 (4to, p. 34; 'Dramatic Works,' 1874, v, 264): 

"'There were three Fools at mid-summer run mad 
About an Howlet, a quarrel they had, 
The one said 'twas an Owle, the other he said nay, 
The third said it was a Hawk but the Bells were cutt away.' " 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 59 

A Negro version of Barbara Allan, from Virginia, was sent to me 
by Professor C. Alphonso Smith. I had wondered if the Negroes had 
failed to appreciate and appropriate this most familiar and beloved 
of all the ballads, and so I was pleased at this contribution. This 
is sung in Albemarle, Wythe, and Campbell Counties, Virginia. 

In London town, whar I was raised, 

Dar war a youth a-dwellin', 
He fell in love wid a putty fair maid, 

Her name 'twar Bob-ree Allin. 

He co 'ted her for seben long years; 

She said she would not marry; 
Poor Willie went home and war takin' sick, 

And ve'y likely died. 

He den sen' out his waitin' boy 

Wid a note for Bob-ree Allin. 
So close, ah, she read, so slow, ah, she walk; 

"Go tell him I'm a-comin'." 

She den step up into his room. 

And stood an' looked upon him. 
He stretched to her his pale white hands : 

"Oh, won't you tell me howdy?" 

"Have you forgot de udder day, 
When we war in de pawlor, 
You drank your health to de gals around, 
And slighted Bob-ree Allin? " 

"Oh, no; oh, no — my dear young miss; 
I think you is mistaking; 
Ef I drank my healt' to de gals around, 
'T war love for Bob-ree Allin." 

"An' now I'm sick and ve'y sick, 
An' on my deathbed lyin', 
One kiss or two fum you, my dear, 
Would take away dis dyin'." 

"Dat kiss or two you will not git, 
Not ef your heart was breakin' ; 
I cannot keep you from death, 
So farewell," said Bob-ree Allin. 

He tu'n his pale face to de wall, 

An' den began er cryin'; 
An' every tear he shed appeared 

Hard-hearted Bob-ree Allin. 



60 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

She walked across de fiel's nex' day 

An' heerd de birds a-singin', 
An' every note dey seemed to say: 

"Hard-hearted Bob-ree Allin." 

She war walkin' 'cross de fiel' nex' day, 

An' spied his pale corpse comin'. 
"Oh, lay him down upon de groun', 

An' let me look upon him." 

As she war walkin' down de street 

She heerd de death bells ringin', 
An' every tone dey seemed to say: 

"Hard-a-hearted Bob-ree Allin." 

"Oh, fader, fader, dig-a my grave, 
An' dig it long an' narrow; 
My true love he have died to-day, 
An' I must die to-morrow. 

"Oh, mudder, mudder, make-a my s'roud 
An' make it long and narrow; 
Sweet Willie died of love for me 
An' I must die to-morrow." 

Sweet Willie war buried in de new churchyard, 

An' Bob-ree Allin beside him. 
Outen his grave sprang a putty red rose, 

An' Bob-ree Allin's a briar. 

Dey grew as high as de steeple top, 

An' could n't grow no higher, 
An' den dey tied a true-love knot, 

De sweet rose roun' de briar. 

Professor Smith, who is custodian of the archives of the Virginia 
Folk-lore Society, tells of other instances of Negro versions of bal- 
lads, as found by members of the society. 

The Old Man in the North Countree (Child, No. 10) was taken down 
from the singing of Negroes in Fairfax County. 

The Cherry Tree Carol (Child, No. 54) is said to be current among 
the Negroes of North Carolina as well as of Virginia. Professor 
Smith was the first to discover this ballad in America, and gives the 
first stanza of it in the Bulletin of Virginia Folk-lore. 

Joseph was an old man, 

An old man was he, 
And he married Mary, 

The Queen of Galilee. 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 61 

This is reported from the singing of an old Negro in Spottsyl- 
vania County, Virginia, who originally belonged to a family in 
Orange County. 

Miss Martha Davis, of Winthrop College, Rock Hill, South Caro- 
lina, writes to Professor Smith of the rinding of this old ballad in 
South Carolina: 

"A few months ago several of the teachers here went to hear a 
Negro preacher one night, a picturesque exhorter of the old type. 
They came back with a story, marvelous to them, of Joseph and 
May Virgin pickin' cherries from a cherry tree, a part of the Gospel, 
according to the preacher. Well, old ballads are often found in 
strange company." 

Lord Arnold's Wife (Child, No. 81) has been heard sung by Negroes 
in Campbell County, Virginia. 

Mr. John Stone, now president of the Virginia Folk-lore Society, 
reports that he has heard of the Negroes in Virginia singing several 
of the songs about which I wrote to inquire. "But I myself have col- 
lected only a fragment of Dandoo, which was learned from a white 
man, a tune to the Cherry Tree Carol, and a tune to Pretty Polly.''' 

Child, in his third volume, page 515, says that Larrikin has been 
sung in Prince William County by Negroes who learned it from 
Scotch settlers. 

Professor Smith says that the ballad Our Goodman, or Hame Cam 
Our Gudeman, which has spread from Great Britain into Germany, 
Hungary, and Scandinavia, is sung among the Negroes of Campbell 
County, Virginia, as Hobble and Bobble. 

This humorous old ballad has had wide circulation as a broadside, 
having been translated into German in 1789. Its simple form of 
structure and its cleverness of folk-humor are such as would natu- 
rally appeal to colored people. 

A song which Professor Kittredge writes me is an old Irish song 
has been adopted over here among the Negroes so successfully that 
even some folk-lorists put it down as a Negro ballad. 1 An article in 
Lippincott's Magazine for December, 1869, says: 

"Many years ago there originated a Negro ballad founded on the 
incidents of a famous horse-race, on which large sums were staked. 

1 Professor Kittredge says: "Skewball is Irish. I enclose a text. The piece is com- 
mon in English broadsides. Readings vary in details. You will note that the Squire is 
the owner, not the judge. It 's obviously absurd for the Squire to talk to the rider (as in 
stanza 5) . Probably, if we had a correct text, it would be Skewball who addresses the 
rider — just as he spoke to his master in an earlier stanza. That would be a good touch. 
And, in fact, in one version (in a broadside) I find — in addition to the stanza in which 
the Squire speaks to the rider — the following: 



61 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Its popularity among the Negroes throughout the slave-holding 
states was great, and it was their nearest approach to an epic. It 

" ' When that they came to the middle of the course, 
Skewball and his rider began a discourse, 
Come, my brave rider, come tell unto me, 
How far is Miss Grizzle this moment from me.' 

This is a Manchester (England) broadside (Bebbington, No. 206). In this version the 
mare with whom Skewball races is called 'Miss Grizzle.'" 

(From The Vocal Library, London, 1822, p. 526.) 

1424. SKEW BALL 

Come, gentlemen sportsmen. I pray, listen all, 
I will sing you a song in the praise of Skew Ball; 
And how he came over, you shall understand, 
It was by Squire Mervin, the pearl of this land. 
And of his late actions as you've heard before, 
He was lately challeng'd by one Sir Ralph Gore, 
For five hundred pounds, on the plains of Kildare, 
To run with Miss Sportly, that famous grey mare. 

Skew Ball then hearing the wager was laid, 

Unto his kind master said — Don't be afraid; 

For if on my side you thousands lay would, 

I would rig on your castle a fine mass of gold ! 

The day being come and the cattle walk'd forth, 

The people came flocking from East, South, and North, 

For to view all the sporters, as I do declare, 

And venture their money all on the grey mare. 

Squire Mervin then, smiling, unto them did say, 
Come, gentlemen, all that have money to lay; 
And you that have hundreds I will lay you all, 
For I'll venture thousands on famous Skew Ball. 
Squire Mervin then, smiling, unto them did say, 
Come, gentlemen sportsmen, to morrow's the day, 
Spurs, horses, and saddles and bridles prepare, 
For you must away to the plains of Kildare. 

The day being come, and the cattle walk'd out, 

Squire Mervin order'd his rider to mount, 

And all the spectators to clear the way, 

The time being come not one moment delay. 

The cattle being mounted away they did fly, 

Skew Ball like an arrow pass'd Miss Sportly by; 

The people went up to see them go round, 

They said in their hearts they ne'er touch'd the ground. 

But as they were running in the midst of the sport,* 

Squire Mervin to his rider began his discourse: 

O! loving kind rider, come tell unto me, 

How far at this moment Miss Sportly 's from thee; 

O! loving kind master, you bear a great style, 

The grey mare's behind you a long English mile. 

If the saddle maintains me, I'll warrant you there, 

You ne'er shall be beat on the plains of Kildare. 

But as they were running by the distant chair, f 

The gentlemen cry'd out — Skew Ball never fear, 

Altho' in this country thou wast ne'er seen before, 

Thou hast beaten Miss Sportly, and broke Sir Ralph Gore. 

* Read " course " (as in the broadside)? 

t Var. (broadside): "But as she was running by the distance chair." 



TRADITIONAL SONGS AND BALLADS 



63 



was generally sung in chanting style, with marked emphasis and the 
prolongation of the concluding syllables of each line. The tenor of 
the narrative indicated that the ' Galliant Gray Mar ' was imported 
from Virginia to Kentucky to beat the 'Noble Skewball,' and the 
bard is evidently a partisan of the latter." 

This article gives disconnected stanzas of the ballad, evidently 
considering that the reader would not be interested in the whole 
of it. 

THE NOBLE SKEWBALL 



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from Ten-nes - see — Some from Al - a - bam -a, and from ev - 'ry- where. 

O! ladies and gentlemen, come one and come all; 
Did you ever hear tell of the Noble Skewball? 
Stick close to your saddle and don't be alarmed, 
For you shall not be jostled by the Noble Skewball. 



Squire Marvin is evidently a judge of the race, for one stanza 
appeals to him. 

Squire Marvin, Squire Marvin, just judge my horse well, 
For all that I want is to see justice done. 



When the horses were saddled and the word was give, Go! 
Skewball shot like an arrow just out of the bow. 

The last stanza given is in complimentary vein. 

A health to Miss Bradley, that Galliant Gray Mar, 
Likewise to the health of the Noble Skewball. 

E. C. Perrow (in an article, "Songs and Rhymes from the South," 
in the Journal of American Folk-lore, 1915, xxvni, 134) has a song 
from Mississippi Negroes which is apparently sung by the jockey 
who rode the "Noble Skewball" in the famous race. 



64 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

01' Marster, an' ol' Mistis, I'm er reskin' my life 
Tryin' to win this great fortune for you an' your wife. 

Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 

01' Skewball was a gray hoss, ol' Molly was brown; 
01' Skewball outrun Molly on the very fust go-round. 

Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 

My hosses is hongry an' they will not eat hay, 

So I'll drive on a piece further, an' I'll feed on the way. 

Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 
Oh, was n't I lucky not to lose? 

Doubtless a definite search for this sort of material would show a 
number of other traditional ballads surviving among the Negroes of 
the various southern states, especially those of an older civilization. 
It is an investigation that should be made soon, however, for the old 
songs are being crowded out of existence by the popularity of phono- 
graphs and the radio, which start the Negroes singing other types of 
song, to the exclusion of the fine old ballads and their own folk-songs. 
This research might form the basis for an extremely interesting and 
scholarly piece of work, which would have sociological as well as 
literary value. 



Ill 

NEGRO BALLADS 

THE Negro loves a ballad, his own or another's. Fond as he is of 
a story, and using song as his second speech, he is particularly 
happy in combining the two into one product. He cherishes the tra- 
ditional ballads that have come down from the white men, adding 
his distinctive touches to them till his versions are his own ; and like- 
wise he makes his racial versions of modern ballads of the whites, as 
Casey Jones, for example, the tale of the brave engineer. But he is 
not content with that. He must make his own ballads, sing his own 
stories in song. The Negro is by nature a mimetic creature, drama- 
tizing all he knows, his experiences and the life about him, expressing 
everything in form and motion. Abstract ideas appeal to him less 
than action, and his poetry in general loves to symbolize and per- 
sonify his philosophizings. Even his religious songs tell definite 
stories more often than not, balladize "Norah" and his ark, Cain 
and Abel, Samson and "Delijah," and the rest, with well-defined 
plots and climatic progression of events. 

The Negro is a born dramatist. Who else is capable of such epic 
largeness of gesture, such eloquent roll of eye, such expressive hesita- 
tion in speech? Any old darky in the cornfield or cabin can put life 
and color and movement into a narrative that in a white man's 
speech might " come limping," to use the Negro's term. So it is nat- 
ural that the ballad form, with its distinct personalities, its action 
and dialogue, should be dear to the Negro heart, as indeed it is to all 
of us until we ignorantly become too learned to realize the simpler 
values. And sometimes a scholar makes of the living ballad a thing 
of dust and dry bones — which the Negro would never be guilty of. 
He loves it for itself, not for any theories concerning it. 

One interesting variation that the Negro shows in his treatment of 
the ballad is to use the first person whenever he likes. While imper- 
sonality is held one distinguishing mark of the ballad as traditional 
with the whites, and a lack of identification with any specific author 
or transmitter is considered a merit, the Negro freely uses the first 
person in his racial ballads and also in those he has taken over from 
the whites. He brings in his "I" prominently in his versions of the 



66 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

traditional ballads learned generations ago from his white masters, 
which does not mean that he is claiming authorship of the ballad, but 
merely that he thinks it more dramatic, more instant in its effect if it 
is put in that form. 

For example, the version of Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight which 
an aged Negro woman in Waco, Texas, gave me, as learned from her 
mother, uses the first person. And the Negro version of The Jew's 
Daughter, reported by Professor Alphonso Smith, uses the same per- 
son — a quaint device in this case, where the narrator is made to re- 
count his own murder! That illogic evidently gave no offence to 
Negro singers or hearers. 

John A. Lomax quotes a version of a Negro ballad, The Boll 
Weevil, where the singer (not necessarily the one who originated the 
song) felt impelled to affix his identification mark in the final stanza. 

If anybody axes you who writ this song, 
Tell 'em it was a dark-skinned Nigger 
Wid a pair of blue-duckins on, 
A-lookin' fur a home, 
Jes' a-lookin' fur a home. 

A song of slavery times, which is still widely current in the South, 
varying somewhat in different localities, is concerned with a "yaller 
gal" that somebody's " ole mars'r " had. This version was given me 
by Dr. Charles Carroll, of New Orleans. 

Ole Mars'r Had a Yaller Gal 

Ole Mars'r had a yaller gal, 

He brought her from the South; 
Her hair it curled so very tight 

She could n't shut her mouth. 

Her eyes they were so very small 

They both ran into one, 
And when a fly got in her eye, 

'T was like a June-bug in the sun. 

Her nose it was so very long 

It turned up like a squash, 
And when she got her dander up, 

It made me laugh, by gosh! 

Ole Mars'r had no hooks or nails, 

Nor anything like that, 
So on this darling's nose he used 

To hang his coat and hat. 



NEGRO BALLADS 67 

One day he went to get his hat and coat 

And neither one was there. 
For she had swallowed both . . . 



He took her to the tailor shop 
To have her mouth made small; 

The lady took in one big breath 
And swallowed tailor and all. 



A variant is given by Miss Emilia Walter, of Charleston, South 
Carolina. She says that this was sung to the banjo and guitar and 
used often as a serenade. This has a chorus, which was lacking in 
the other. 

Ol' Mars'r Had a Pretty Yaller Gal 

OF Mars'r had a pretty yaller gal, 

He brought her fum de Souf ; 
Her hair it curled so berry tight 

She could n't shut her mouf. 

Chorus 

Way down in Mississippi 

Where de gals dey are so pretty, 

Wat a happy time, way down in old Car'line! 

Dis darky fell in love 

Wid a han'some yaller Dinah. 

Higho — higho — higho ! 

Louise Laurens of Shelbyville, Kentucky, contributes a version 
with a different chorus. 



Massa Had a Yaller Gal 

Massa had a yaller gal; 

He brought her from de South; 
Her hair it curled so very tight 

She could n't shut her mouth. 



Chorus 

Oh, I ain't got time to tarry, 
Oh, I ain't got time to tarry, 
An' I ain't got time to tarry, boys, 
For I'se gwine away. 



68 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



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hair it curled so ver - y tight She could n't shut her mouth. 



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tar - ry, An' I ain't got time to tar-ry, boys, For I 'se gwine a - way. 

He took her to de tailor, 

To have her mouth made small. 
She swallowed up the tailor, 

Tailorshop and all. 

Chorus 

Massa had no hooks nor nails 

Nor anything like that; 
So on this darky's nose he used 

To hang his coat and hat. 
Chorus 



A less comely person of a different sex is celebrated or anathema- 
tized in another song, which seems to be fairly well known in the 
South, as parts of it have been sent in by various persons. According 
to the testimony of several people who remember events before the 
war, this is an authentic slavery-time song. The air and some of the 
words were given by my sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, as learned 
from the Negroes on a plantation in Texas, and other parts by an old 
man in Louisiana, who sang it to the same tune. He said he had 
known it from his earliest childhood and had heard the slaves sing 
it on the plantations. A version was also sent by a writer whose pen 
name is Virginia Stait. 



NEGRO BALLADS 
COTTON-EYED JOE 



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What did make you treat me so? I'd 'a' been mar - ried 



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for - ty year a - go Ef it had n't a - been for Cot- ton - eyed Joe. 



Don't you remember, don't you know, 
Don't you remember Cotton-eyed Joe? 
Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe, 
What did make you treat me so? 
I 'd 'a ' been married forty year ago 
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe! 

Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe, 

He was de nig dat sarved me so, — 

Tuck my gal away fum me, 

Carried her off to Tennessee. 

I 'd 'a ' been married forty year ago 

Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe. 

His teeth was out an' his nose was flat, 

His eyes was crossed, — but she did n't mind dat. 

Kase he was tall, and berry slim, 

An' so my gal she follered him. 

I'd 'a' been married forty year ago 

Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe. 

She was de prettiest gal to be found 

Anywhar in de country round; 

Her lips was red an' her eyes was bright, 

Her skin was black but her teeth was white. 

I 'd 'a ' been married forty year ago 

Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe. 



70 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Dat gal, she sho' had all my love, 
An' swore fum me she 'd never move, 
But Joe hoodooed her, don't you see, 
An' she run off wid him to Tennessee. 
I'd 'a ' been married forty year ago 
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe ! 

Another ballad, which is said to be very old, since, as Mr. Charley 
Danne, of Trevilians, Virginia, who gave it to me, said, "The song 
about the fox was recalled at the request of my wife by an elderly 
gentleman who remembers having heard it often sung by slaves," is 
typical in that it shows the Negro's fondness for dramatic dialogue 
and his interest in animals. One can imagine how vividly the planta- 
tion slaves must have sung this spirited song recounting the wily 
fox's exploits and misfortunes. 

The fox and the lawyer was different in kind. 

The fox and the lawyer was different in mind. 

The lawyer loved done meat because it was easy to chaw. 

The fox was not choice but would take his blood raw. 

Out from his den on a moonshiny night 
The fox caught a fat hen by his cunning and sleight. 
On the very same night, straight back to his den, 
Next morning surrounded by the tracks of dog men. 

Men says, Surrender, Mister, I am at your door, 
For you shall never eat of my hens any more; 
For I shall never trust you out of my sight 
Till you and these dog men shall take a fair fight. 

O, how can you call such a fight as this fair 

When there is but my one self and all these dogs hair [here]? 

I'll take a fair race with the best dog you've got, 

And if he will catch me I '11 die on the spot. 

Ah no, Mister, that scheme will not do, 
For I never intend to trust you nor none of your crew; 
For none but dog lawyers can plead on dog side 
And if they condemn you they '11 tear off your hide. 

Another song, said to be very old, was given me by Reverend J. G. 
Dickinson, of Evergreen, Alabama. It was sung by slaves on plan- 
tations before the war, and is still cherished, in some white families 
at least, until now. Elizabeth Dickinson, now of Columbia Univer- 



NEGRO BALLADS 



71 



sity, says that her father was accustomed to use the first stanza as a 
"waking-up" song for his children, and that she hated to hear the 
strains of Old Jesse start up, especially on a morning like that de- 
scribed in the initial stanza. 

OLD JESSE 



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ev - 'ry - thing had to cl'ar de track, When he stretched out a - gin. 



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Old Jes-se was a gem -man, A-mong de old - en times. 



One cold an' frosty mornin' 

Just as de sun did riz, 
De possum roared, de raccoon howled, 

'Cause he begun to friz. 
He drew hisse'f up in a knot 
Wid his knees up to his chin, 
An' ev'rything had to cl'ar de track, 
When he stretched out agin. 

Chorus 

Old Jesse was a gemman, 
Among de olden times. 

Nigger never went to free school, 

Nor any odder college, 
An' all de white folks wonder whar 

Dat nigger got his knowledge. 



72 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

He chawed up all de Bible 
An' den spat out de Scripter, 
An' when he 'gin to arger strong, 
He were a snortin' ripter! 

Chorus 

Nigger used to pick de banjo, 

He play so berry well [strong?] ; 
He alius play dat good ole tune, 

"So Go It While You're Young." 
He play so clear, he play so loud, 
He skeered de pigs an' goats. 
He alius tuck a pint ob yeast 
To raise his highest notes. 

Chorus 

Virginia Stait sends a ballad which she thinks is old. It certainly 
recounts incidents that are of slavery times. The Negro's terror and 
his devices to escape attack are dramatically presented, and one 
aspect of slave life is shown which might tempt some present-day 
Negroes to regret emancipation — the daily ration of liquor given by 
the master. 

'Twas on de Bluff 

'Twas down on de bluff, in de state ob Indiana, 
Dat's where I uster lib, chick up in de banner, 
Ebery mornin' nearly, my marster gib me liquor, 
An' I took a little boat an' pushed out de quicker. 

Oh, 'twas up de river drif ' an' 'twas in er little skiff, 
An' I caught as many cat-fish as any nigger lif ' ! 

I turns around my skiff — think I see a alligator, 
I picked up my rod an' I chunked a sweet potato. 
I picked up my pole and I tried for to vex him, 
But I could n't fool him bad, noways I could fix him. 

So I up with a brick and fotched him sech a lick 
I found 't was a pine knot upon a big stick. 

Then I turn around my skiff, think I see a white man comin'; 
"Lord," says I to myself, "here's no time for runnin'!" 
So I jumped on my horse, threw my cloak around my shoulders, 
An' I stood jes' as still as a old militia soldier. 

An' he pass all around, like a hound upon de soun'; 
He took me for a mile-post, stuck into de ground. 



NEGRO BALLADS 73 

An' my oP marster died on the leventeenth of April. 
Jack dug de hole at de root de sugar maple. 
He dug a big hole, right down upon de level, 
An' I have n't got a doubt but he went to de . 

Evelyn Cary Williams, of Lynchburg, Virginia, sends a brief bal- 
lad which is difficult to place with respect to time. It may be a 
genuine Negro ballad, or it may be one remembered from the singing 
of the whites. I have seen it nowhere else, and so I cannot say. 
There are certain typical Negro touches about it, for the " lonesome 
road" is often referred to in Negro songs, and in Negro ballads one 
often hangs down his head and cries, as in one of the religious songs, 
for example : 

"What you gwine to do when Death comes tippin' in yo' room?" 
"I'm gwine to hang my head, I'm gwine to hang my head and cry." 

"True love," also is a favorite term with Negro songsters, and ap- 
pears in numerous love ditties. 

On the other hand, there is a sort of literary simplicity about it 
that is like the lovely little Caroline songs of England. I wish that I 
knew the history of this. Miss Williams gives it as taken down from 
the singing of Charles Galloway, a black man, uneducated, a worker 
on the roads in Virginia. 



THE LONESOME ROAD 



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Look down, look down that lone - some road, . . Hang down yo' 



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head an' cry. 



The best of friends must part some 



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"Look down, look down that lonesome road, 
Hang down yo' head an' cry. 
The best of friends must part some time, 
An' why not you an' I?" 

"True love, true love, what have I done, 
That you should treat me so? 
You caused me to walk and talk with you 
Like I never done befo'." 



74 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

These old songs are interesting in themselves, as survivals of the 
ballad-making art in America, apart from their racial significance. 
They show that America, while cherishing with delight the tradi- 
tional ballads of England and Scotland, the weightless cargo of song 
brought over in brave adventurous ships, while not forgetting the 
quaint and lovely tales told in verse that generations now dead took 
pleasure in, has produced ballads of its own as well. This new land, 
too, has had the power to seize upon an incident and make it mem- 
orable in words that sing themselves, to tell in picturing lines a story 
of some local character, some hero or some villain of this side the 
water. 

One does not need, in order to appreciate them, to argue for 
these Negro ballads of slavery times the literary quality that inheres 
in those our Scotch and English forbears composed. One may value 
them for their homely simplicity, their rough humor, their awkward 
wistfulness; and though they would not stand the rigid tests of 
poetry, they are indigenous ballads, made in America and based on 
native characters and happenings; hence are worth our study. They 
are newer than the ballads of the old country, but they are as un- 
identified as to authorship, and they circulated among the people of 
the South, both white and black, having been sung on many planta- 
tions where song lightened labor and made the Negro almost forget 
that he was working, so great was his pleasure in his song. 

In 1904, Professor Kittredge, in his introduction to the one- volume 
edition of Child's " English and Scottish Popular Ballads," wrote: 
" Ballad-making, so far as the English-speaking nations are con- 
cerned, is a lost art; and the same may be said of ballad-singing.' ' 

In a letter to Professor Alphonso Smith, dated February 20, 19 15, 
he says: "When I wrote 'the same may be said of ballad-singing,' 
I was, of course, in error. Ballad-singing is by no means a lost art, 
either in Great Britain, or in America. The evidence for its survival 
has come in since I wrote. If I were now summing up the facts I 
should modify my statement." 

I wonder if Professor Kittredge would not modify also his state- 
ment that ballad-making is a lost art, if he were to review the Negro 
folk-songs of to-day. The Negroes in the South are now singing bal- 
lads which of necessity are of recent composition, since they cele- 
brate recent happenings. These ballads are as far from being linked 
with the names of specific authors as are those in Child's collections, 
so that if the impersonality of composition be a proof of ballad art, 
that is not wanting here. No Negro can tell you who made the song 
he sings, for he is not at all interested in author, or "maker," but in 



NEGRO BALLADS 75 

the story, in the incident and character the song relates. A collector 
may ask in vain as to authorship, for he finds nothing. 

These ballads of to-day, as sung by the Negroes of the South, are as 
fluid in form, as changeable in version, as different in varying locali- 
ties, as ever were English or Scotch songs of centuries ago. They are 
being made now, as in the past, and are the products of recognized 
individual composers rather than of many singers. What is com- 
munal origin, if it does not imply that different singers contributed 
their share to the making of a song? One does not need to believe 
that the ballad was made all at once, that spontaneous group-singing 
on one occasion produced it. But these Negroes illustrate their type 
of communal composition when they add to or subtract from or 
change the songs they sing. Many times I have been told by Negro 
singers that they vary their song to suit their mood, that they rarely 
sing stanzas twice in the same order, and that individual singers will 
add to the song at will. 

The printed page has nothing to do with the Negro's circulation of 
his ballads. The Negro who is fondest of his ballads is the one who is 
not interested particularly in print, perhaps is altogether ignorant of 
it. (That is not true in all cases, of course.) The ballad is scattered 
over a state by the singing of the care-free vagrant Negroes who go 
from place to place in search of work, or are sent about on construc- 
tion gangs, and so forth. Songs lightly pass the borders of states, 
stealing a ride as casually as the tramps who ride the sleepers. Tunes 
may persist while the words vary, or words may remain somewhat 
the same and be sung to different airs. In different states a song may 
celebrate different local characters, bring in names of different towns, 
and in each locality be thought of as a purely native product. But 
a careful comparison may show that the versions are but variants of 
one ballad, started by some unknown soldier of song, and kept alive 
by thousands of others. A song passes from lip to lip, till it is almost 
unrecognizable, and yet is the same. 

The Negro has no theory of ballad origin to expound or explode. 
Communal composition as a theory of literary art concerns him not 
at all, but he makes use of it as a practice in his spontaneous singing. 
The Negro is a born improviser, and takes delight in adding to a 
song, his own or another's. A spiritual or a shout-song sung at a 
camp meeting may be prolonged indefinitely, as any individual 
singer may start a new stanza, which is easy to construct because of 
the simple framework. The congregation will quickly catch it up, 
and perhaps it becomes a permanent part of the song after that, or 
perhaps it is never thought of again. Mrs. Busbee, of North Caro- 



76 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

lina, tells of an occasion on which she says she was " present at the 
birth of a ballad." The Negro preacher at a camp meeting quoted a 
verse of scripture and then chanted a stanza of a song he improvised 
from it. The congregation instantly caught the tune and sang the 
stanza after him. Before the song was ended, the congregation was 
improvising additional stanzas, and the whole was sung enthusiasti- 
cally and repeated many times thereafter. Mrs. Busbee says that 
she was the only white person present at the meeting and was tre- 
mendously impressed by the folk-loristic significance of the occur- 
rence. 

Hatcher Hughes reports having been an auditor at the origin of a 
spontaneous communal ballad in the mountain districts of North 
Carolina some time ago. A shiftless character whose first name was 
John, and whose last name, while known, is charitably withheld, had 
maliciously killed a fine hunting dog, Old Lead, a favorite " tree dog" 
for hunting squirrels. The community was greatly incensed over the 
occurrence, accused John of wishing to eat the dog, and threatened to 
beat him severely. His wife, Mary, wept and begged for mercy for 
him. The neighbors were gathered together discussing the situation, 
when, after some tentative tuning up, a ballad flashed into being. 
Mr. Hughes can recall only the first stanza: 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 

Killed Old Lead and home he run. 

Old Lead was eat, and John was beat, 

And Mary ran bawling down the street. 

Mr. Hughes says that the word " street " was used purely for effect 
of rhyme ! He says that others present improvised additional stanzas, 
and that the song was added to and sung in the community for a long 
time, as a genuine example of spontaneous communal composition of 
folk-song. 

John A. Lomax argues for the communal authorship of The Boll 
Weevil, saying in an article in the Journal of American Folk-lore, 
volume xxviii: "The ballad of The Boll Weevil and other songs in my 
collection are absolutely known to have been composed by groups 
of people whose community life made their thinking similar, and 
present valuable corroborative evidence of the theory advanced by 
Professor Gummere and Professor Kittredge concerning the origin of 
the ballads from which come those now contained in the great Child 
collection." 

This ballad of The Boll Weevil can be more definitely placed with 
respect to location and time than can many folk-songs. It must 



NEGRO BALLADS 



77 



naturally have had its origin in a cotton-growing state, and it could 
not have been composed, communally or otherwise, before the insect 
in question crossed the Rio Grande and began its depredations in 
Texas. That was about thirty years ago, which fact fixes the song 
as of recent origin. 

Each cotton-growing state has its own version of The Boll Weevil, 
which varies in length and incident from other versions, but is 
essentially the same. Here is a version given by Roberta Anderson, 
of Texas, that differs somewhat from the one I used in my book, 
"From a Southern Porch," but is like it. 

I found a little boll weevil, 
An' put 'im on de ice. 
Thought dat dat 'ud kill him, 
But he say, "Oh, ain't dat nice? 

Dis is mah home, dis is mah home!" 

Found anodder little weevil, 
Put 'im in de sand. 
Thought dat sure would kill 'im, 
But he stood hit lack a man. 

Dat was his home, dat was his home! 

De farmer say to de merchant, 
"Oh, what you think of dat? 
I found a little weevil 
In mah new Stetson hat, 

Hun tin' a home, huntin' a home!" 



Another Texas form of the ballad runs as follows. I give only the 
first stanza. 

MR. BOLL WEEVIL 



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I says to Mis-ter Boll Wee - vil, What you do - in' thar? The 



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last 



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I seed you, You wuz Set - tin' 




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squah. Just hunt -in' you a home . . Just hunt -in' you a home. 



78 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I says to Mister Boll Weevil, 
"What you doin' thar? 
The last time I seed you, 
You wuz settin' on a squah, 

Just huntin' you a home, 

Just huntin' you a home." 

Another version is given by Louise Garwood, of Houston, Texas. 

Oh, have you heard de latest, 

De latest all yore own? 

All about de Boll Weevil 

Whut caused me to lose mah home? 

First time ah saw de Boll Weevil 
He was settin' on de squah. 
Next time ah saw dat Weevil 
He was settin' everywhah, 

Jes' a-lookin' foh a home, — lookin' foh a home! 

Fahmah say to de Weevil, 
"Whut makes yore head so red?" 
Weevil say to de fahmah, 
"It's a wondah ah ain't dead, 

Lookin' foh a home, lookin' foh a home!" 

Nigger say to de Weevil, 

"Ah '11 throw you in de hot sand." 

Weevil say to de nigger, 

"Ah '11 stand hit lak a man. 

Ah '11 have a home, ah '11 have a home!" 

Says de Captain to de Mistis, 
"Whut do you think ob dat? 
Dis Boll Weevil done make a nes' 
Inside mah Sunday hat; 

He'll have a home, — he'll have a home!" 

Ef you wanta kill de Boll Weevil 

You betta staht in time. 

Use a little sugar 

An' lots o' turpentine, 

An' he'll be dead, — an' he'll be dead! 

Mrs. Henry Simpson, of Dallas, Texas, remembers this version as 
she heard it sung by the workers on a plantation in the Brazos 
Bottom. Most of the stanzas conform generally to other versions, 
but these two are different: 






NEGRO BALLADS 79 

Said the merchant to the farmer, 

" We're in an awful fix! 
If things go on in this way, 

You '11 have me in the sticks, 

Without a home, without a home!" 

"Oh, Wine!" said Honey, 

"I don't know where we're at. 
If the Boll Weevil goes on like this, 
We '11 all be busted flat, 

We'll have no home, we'll have no home!" 

Mabel Cranflll, also of Dallas, recalls a form of the ballad that has 
the refrain: 

Boll Weevil's got a home, Babe, 
Boll Weevil 's got a home. 

Lizzie Coleman, principal of a Negro school in Greenville, Mis- 
sissippi, writes: "The Boll Weevil was composed by a man in Meri- 
vale, I believe. It is like many other ballads written by men in this 
state. The tune is made, the writer sings it and sells his song. His 
hearers catch the sound — and on it goes." 

The boll weevil is a promising subject for balladry, since he fur- 
nishes many romantic motifs. He is an outlaw, hunted in every 
field. He has apparently superhuman powers of resistance to hard- 
ship, exposure, and attacks from man, the individual, and from or- 
ganized society. He has an extraordinary cunning and trickery, can 
outwit and flout man, and go his way despite all human efforts to 
stop him. He is coming to be a beloved rascal like Bre'r Rabbit, his 
exploits and cunning joyed in even by those he defies; a picaresque 
hero with an international reputation for evil; a Robin Hood of the 
cotton-patch, admired while he is hunted down. 

Doubtless in time a cycle of ballads will spring up with him as 
central character, a compensation in song for the economic ruin he 
has brought. Some of the versions of the ballad now in existence are 
said to have the mythical "hundred stanzas," so that already con- 
temporary legendry is playing with this tiny, powerful villain. One 
correspondent writes, "I wish you could see the Negroes' faces light 
up when I mention The Boll Weevil, and they all say they could think 
of many stanzas if they had time." 

Another ballad which appears in various sections of the South and 
is widely current among the Negroes, one of their most popular 
songs, relates the misadventures of a Negro woman and her faithless 
spouse. The title varies, being called in different versions Franky, 



80 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Pauly, Lilly, Georgy, Frankie and Johnnie, Franky and Albert, Franky 
Baker, and so forth. The stanzas are changed in order and in word- 
ing, but the chief incidents of the tale remain the same. I have a 
number of versions, no two of which are identical. The popularity of 
the song and the extent to which it is known were illustrated re- 
cently when F. P. A. of the Tribune " Conning Tower" played with 
it for some time, issuing from day to day parodies of the ballad, or 
different versions sent in by readers. Some stanzas and some ver- 
sions are said to be unsuitable for print. I used one version in my 
"From a Southern Porch," a somewhat different form from these 
herein included. 

The first is contributed by Roberta Anderson, of Texas, and tells 
the tragedy succinctly and with no waste verbage. 

Frankie and Albert 

Frankie was a good woman, 
As everybody knows. 
She bought her po' Albert 
A bran' new suit o' clo'se. 

Oh, he's her man, 

But he done her wrong! 

Barkeeper said to Frankie, 
"I won't tell you no lies: 
I saw yo' po' Albert 
Along with Sara Slies. 

Oh, he's yo' man, 

But he done you wrong!" 

An' then they put po' Albert 
In a bran-new livery hack, 
Took him to the graveyard 
But they never brought him back, 

Oh, he's her man, 

But he done her wrong! 

Louise Garwood, of Houston, Texas, gives the following version of 
the catastrophe, a little fuller in detail : 

Frankie was a good woman, 

Everybody knows. 

Paid about a hundred dollars 

For the making of Albert's clothes. 

"Oh, he was my man, 

But he done me wrong!" 



NEGRO BALLADS 8 1 

Standing on the street corner, 
Did n't mean no harm. 
Up in the second-story window 
Saw Alice in Albert's arms ! 

"Oh, he was my man, 

But he done me wrong!" 

Frankie went down to the saloon, 
Did n't go there for fun; 
Underneath her silk petticoat 
She carried a forty-one gun. 
"Oh, he was my man, 
But he done me wrong!" 

"Listen here, Mister Bartender, 
Don't you tell me no lies. 
Have you seen that Nigger Albert 
With the girl they call the Katy Fly? 

Oh, he was my man, 

But he done me wrong!" 

Frankie shot Albert once, 
Frankie shot Albert twice, 
Third time she shot poor Albert 
She took that Nigger's life. 

"Oh, he was my man, 

But he done me wrong!" 

Rubber-tired carriage, 

Kansas City hack, 

Took poor Albert to the cemetery 

But forgot to bring him back. 

"Oh, he was my man, 

But he done me wrong!" 

W. H. Thomas, professor of English at Agricultural and Mechani- 
cal College, of Texas, and formerly president of the Texas Folk-lore 
Society, reported another version, in a paper read before the society. 

Frankie went to the barkeeper's, to get a bottle of beer; 
She says to the barkeeper: "Has my loving babe been here?" 
He was her man, babe, but he done her wrong. 

The barkeeper says to Frankie: "I ain't going to tell you no he; 
Albert passed 'long here walking about an hour ago with a Nigger 
named Alkali." 
He was her man, babe, but he done her wrong. 



82 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Frankie went to Albert's house; she did n't go for fun; 

For underneath her apron was a blue-barrel forty-one. 

He was her man, babe, but he done her wrong. 

When Frankie got to Albert's house, she did n't say a word, 
But she cut down upon poor Albert just like he was a bird. 
He was her man, babe, but she shot him down. 

When Frankie left Albert's house, she lit out in a run, 
For underneath her apron was a smoking forty-one. 
He was her man, babe, but he done her wrong. 

"Roll me over, doctor, roll me over slow. 
'Cause when you rolls me over, them bullets hurt me so. 
I was her man, babe, but she shot me down." 

Frankie went to the church house and fell upon her knees, 
Crying, "Oh, Lord, have mercy, won't you give my heart some ease? 
He was my man, babe, but I shot him down." 

Rubber-tired buggy, decorated hack, 

They took him to the graveyard, but they could n't bring him back. 
He was her man, babe, but he done her wrong. 

Mrs. Tom Bartlett, of Marlin, Texas, sends a version with com- 
ment on that given by Professor Thomas. " You will notice that Mr. 
Thomas calls the cause of dissension between Frankie and Albert, 
' Alkali,' but I am sure he is wrong. All who have given me any 
version at all agree that Alice caused the trouble, and one went so 
far as to name her Alice Fly. Some Negroes sing this, ' Georgia was 
a good woman,' but most of them agree that it was Frankie. Some 
say she paid only $41 for his suit of clothes. All who have given me 
versions end up each stanza with, 'Oh, he was my man, but he done 
me wrong!' whereas you will note that Mr. Thomas says, 'He was 
her man, but she shot him down!'" 

Frankie and Albert 

Frankie was a good woman, 
Everybody knows. 
Paid one hundred dollars 
For Albert a suit of clothes! 

For he was her man, but he done her wrong! 

Frankie went to Albert's house 
And found little Alice there! 
Pulled out her forty-five 
And brought him to the floor! 

"He was my man, but he done me wrong!" 



NEGRO BALLADS 



83 



Frankie went to the courthouse; 
Courthouse look so high! 
Put her foot on the bottom step 
And hung her head and cry, 

"Oh, he was my man, but he done me wrong!" 

" Roll me over, doctor, 
Roll me over slow. 
Bullet in my left side 
And it pain my body so!" 

"Oh, he was my man, but he done me wrong!" 

Frankie had two children, 

A boy and a girl; 

Never see their papa any more 

Till they meet him in another world! 

"Oh, he was my man, but he done me wrong!" 

There are two tunes for the song. The more common air, taken 
down from the singing of W. H. Thomas and several others, and also 
sent in by Mrs. Bartlett, is the one I have always heard in Texas. 
Any of the versions of the song heretofore given can be sung to it, 
though the adaptable Negro voices have to do a reasonable amount 
of slurring and spreading out in places. One Texas stanza will serve 
to illustrate the tune: 

FRANKIE 



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Frankie was a good wo - man, 



Ev - 'ry - bod - y knows. . . Gave 



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for - ty - one dol - lars . . For her Al - bert . . a suit of clothes . . 



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Oh, he's . . my man, babe, . . but he done me wrong 

Frankie was a good woman, 

Ev'rybody knows, 
Gave forty-one dollars 

For her Albert a suit of clothes. 
Oh, he's my man, babe, but he done me wrong! 

This is extraordinarily effective when sung by a group of colored 
people, with its wailful refrain. 



8 4 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Another variant of the ballad has a different tune, somewhat more 
sophisticated. The words and the air are less frequently heard than 
the others, yet they are fairly popular in the South. 



FRANKIE AND ALBERT 



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O, lord-y, how they did 



Frankie and Al - bert were lov - ers. 



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love! 



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Said they 'd be true 



to each oth - er, . . . True as 



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the bright stars a - bove. He was her man, but he done her wrong. 

Frankie and Albert were lovers. 

Oh, lordy, how they did love! 
Said they 'd be true to each other, 

True as the bright stars above. 
He was her man, but he done her wrong. 

Glenn Mullin is using one form of this version, somewhat different 
from any that I have, in his forthcoming book, "Adventures of a 
Scholar Tramp." He captured it in the Texas Panhandle, and it 
contains some fascinating details. 

Loraine Wyman sent me a version she had got from the singing of 
Robert Buchanan, from Beaver Creek, Ash County, North Caro- 
lina, which has additional details and varying refrains at the end of 
the stanzas. 

There is something elemental about the passions and the swift 
action of this ballad that makes it popular. Jealousy, whether of a 
husband or a lover, is a comprehensible and common emotion, so that 
the reader's sympathy is divided between the indignant wife, swift 
to avenge her injury, and "her man" who " done her wrong." We 
do not know and perhaps shall never discover — so lame is scholarly 
research — where this militant woman lived, nor when she used her 
pistol with such telling effect. We do not know who Franky was — or 
Lilly, or Pauly, or Georgy, as the case may be. We cannot tell 
whether her erring spouse was Albert or Johnny, but whether or not 
he was a Baker, his cake was all dough when Franky — or Pauly, or 



NEGRO BALLADS 85 

Lilly, or Georgy — learned of his Sly defection. And her name — 
though varied in different versions of the song so that perhaps she 
would not recognize it herself if she heard it sung in other sections of 
the South — will go down among those of other romantic heroines 
who have been handy with weapons in emergency. 

Duncan and Brady is another ballad of recent origin. It is fairly 
well known among the Negroes in Texas. Mrs. Tom Bartlett, of 
Marlin, writes concerning it : 

"The Duncan and Brady song is a gem, and I will not rest in 
peace till I get it all for you. It is a genuine ballad in that it cele- 
brates the final adventures of a ' bad Nigger ' who shot up the town. 
No other place than Waco was the scene of the fray, and that prob- 
ably accounts for its great popularity in this region. ... I am 
exerting myself greatly to get this song, having offered various 
Negroes of my acquaintance bribes in the way of Mr. Bartlett's old 
hats and shoes; and if you know their weakness for these two objects 
of apparel, you may feel confident of my success." 

Duncan and Brady 

Duncan and Brady had a talk; 

Said Duncan to Brady, "Let's take a walk, 

Go down to the colored saloon 

And whip out all the colored coons." 

Went down to the colored bar, 
First a drink and then a cigar. 
Duncan thought Brady was a bluff, 
Brady showed Duncan he was the stuff. 

Next mornin' at half -past nine 
Buggies and hearses formed in line, 
Takin' ol J Brady to the buryin' ground. 

Later on, Mrs. Bartlett writes : 

"This is all I have ever been able to trace of the famous Duncan 
and Brady ballad. As you see, it is not the same as the first one I 
sent you, and Mr. Bartlett and Dr. Shaw (a highly respectable 
gentleman from whom I got most of the following rather question- 
able ditties) had hot and bitter words over this particular song, Mr. 
Bartlett contending that the other (the first) was the only true and 
original Duncan and Brady, and Dr. Shaw contesting as feverishly 
that his own version was the authentic one. I give it and leave you 
the responsibility of a decision in favor of one or the other. 



86 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

" Twinkle, twinkle, little star, 
Brady come down on — Gabriel car, 
Kickin' out windows and knockin' out doors, 
Tryin' to play even with Diamond Joe ! 
Been on a jolly so long! 

" (Follows a thrilling account of his adventures, but I can get no 
details); then: 

" Brady, Brady was a big fat man; 
Doctor caught hold of Brady's hand, 
Felt of his pulse and shook his head. 
'I believe to my soul old Brady's dead!' 
Been on a jolly so long ! 

" Soon's the women heard Brady was dead 
They went straight home and dressed in red. 
Came a-skippin' and toddlin' along, 
'Cause they's glad old Brady was gone. 
Been on a jolly so long ! 

"It is easy to see that Diamond Joe had the ladies with him in the 
unfortunate affair. 'Women' is not the word actually used in the 
song." 
Louise Garwood, of Houston, contributes a version of this song : 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star 

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, 

Brady came home on a cable car. 
Well, he was drunk and out of sight, 

Had n't been sober in many a night. 

Mr. Duncan was a heap big squaw; 

Met Big Jim and he had a taw. 
Well, he carried him down to the colored saloon, 

Gonna kill himself a very heavy-set coon. 

Mr. Duncan was behind the bar, 

When in walked Brady with a shining star; 
Cried, "Duncan, Duncan, you are under arrest!" 

An' Duncan put a bullet in Brady's breast. 

Brady fell down on the barroom floor; 

Cried, "Please, Mr. Duncan, don't you shoot no more!" 
The women cried, "Oh, ain't it a shame, 

He's shot King Brady — gonna shoot him again!" 



NEGRO BALLADS 



87 



Mrs. Brady was at home in bed, 

When she got de telegram that Brady was dead. 
Cried, " Chillun, chillun, chillun, put yore hats on yore head, 

And let's go down an' see if old King Brady is dead." 

"Brady, Brady, why did n't you run? 

When you saw that Duncan had a forty-four gun? 
Oh, Brady, Brady, Brady, you should oughter have run; 
You had n't oughter faced that great big Gatling gun!" 

Well, the women cried for many a day, 

"Brady's gone an' he's gone to stay!" 
For many a month there was crape on the door. 

Brady's gone an' ain't coming back any more! 

The Coon-Can Game is another ballad sent by Mrs. Bartlett. Coon- 
can is said to be a complicated card-game, something like rummy, 
my correspondent suggests, only more scientific, and is a great 
favorite with Negroes. It is also played by certain fashionable white 
people at present. 

The music to this, as to the other songs that Mrs. Bartlett sent, 
was written down by Mrs. Buie, of Marlin. Mrs. Bartlett writes: 
"I cannot begin to tell you of the difficulties Mrs. Buie met with in 
trying to translate the songs 'from African to American music/ as 
she expresses the process. There are slurs and drops and ' turns ' and 
heaven knows what of notes not to be interpreted by any known 
musical sign. You are experienced enough with Negro music to 
know that it is entirely different as sung, from the regular accom- 
paniment. I think, though, that Mrs. Buie has been very successful 
in getting the native curlicues, the melody and rhythm. She has 
truly worked against odds." 



THE COON-CAN GAME 



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I sat down to a coon-can game, I . . could n't play my hand. I was 



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think-in* about the woman I love Run a - way with an-other man. . . 



88 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I sat down to a coon-can game, 

I could n't play my hand. 
I was thinkin' about the woman I love 

Run away with another man. 

Run away with another man, 

Poor boy! 
Run away with another man. 
I was thinkin' about the woman I love 
Run away with another man. 

I went down to the big depot, 

The train came a-rumblin' by. 
I looked in the window, saw the woman I loved, 

And I hung my head and cried. 

I hung my head and cried, 

Poor boy! 
I hung my head and cried. 
I looked in the window, saw the woman I loved, 
And I hung my head and cried. 

I jumped right on the train platform, 

I walked right down the aisle. 
I pulled out my forty-some odd 

And I shot that dark-skinned child. 

I shot that dark-skinned child, 

Poor boy! 
I shot that dark-skinned child. 
I pulled out my forty-some odd 
And I shot that dark-skinned child. 

They took me down to the big court house; 

The judge, he looked at me. 
I said, "Oh, kind-hearted Judge, 

What am it gwine to be?" 

What am it gwine to be, 
What am it gwine to be, 

Poor boy? 
What am it gwine to be? 
I say, "Oh, kind-hearted Judge, 
What am it gwine to be?" 

The judge he heard the contract read, 

The clerk, he took it down. 
They handed me over to the contractor, 

And now I'm penitentiary-bound. 



NEGRO BALLADS 89 

And now I 'm penitentiary-bound, 

Poor boy! 
And now I 'm penitentiary-bound. 
They banded me over to the contractor, 
And now I 'm penitentiary-bound. 

The night was cold and stormy, 

'It sho' did look like rain. 
I ain't got a friend in the whole wide world, 

Nobody knows my name. 

Nobody knows my name, 

Poor boy! 
Nobody knows my name. 
I ain't got a friend in the whole wide world. 

Nobody knows my name. 

My mother 's in the cold, cold ground, 

My father ran away. 
My sister married a gamblin' man, 

And now I 'm gone astray. 

And now I 'm gone astray, 

Poor boy ! 
And now I 'm gone astray. 
My sister married a gamblin' man, 
And now I 'm gone astray. 

Another picaresque ballad, The Hop-Joint, which is a fit compan- 
ion piece for The Coon-Can Game, is also sent by Mrs. Bartlett, who 
says: 

" There are many more stanzas to The Hop- Joint, but I have had a 
hard time getting even these. The ' respectable ' Negroes don't like 
to confess that they know any of it, because it is a disreputable song, 
and they are quite averse to having the shadow cast on their good 
name that any acquaintance with the song would, to their mind, 
shed. You know a hop-joint is the vernacular for a drug-shop, and 
all that implies, and 'drug' to a Negro means cocaine, 'coke,' 'dope/ 
etc., being synonymous with 'hops.' I have heard the term 'hop- 
head,' or 'hop-eater' applied to 'dope-fiends.' Of course, the 
hop-joint is the very lowest imaginable rendezvous for the most 
thoroughly submerged of the colored underworld. No wonder they 
all disclaim the song." 



9 o 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



I WENT TO THE HOP-JOINT 



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went to the hop - joint And thought I 'd have some 



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fun. In walked Bill Bai - ley 



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one! (Oh, ba - by darl - in', why don't you come home?) . . 

I went to the hop-joint 

And thought I 'd have some fun. 

In walked Bill Bailey 

With his forty-one ! 

(Oh, baby darlin', why don't you come home?) 

First time I saw him 

I was standin' in the hop-joint door. 

Next time I saw him, 

I was lyin' on the hop-joint floor. 

(Oh, baby darlin', why don't you come home?) 

Shot me in the side 

And I staggered to the door. 

Don't catch me playin' bull 

In the hop- joint any more ! 

(Oh, baby darlin', why don't you come home?) 

Some rides in buggies, 

Some rides in hacks. 

Some rides in hearses, 

But they never come back! 

(Oh, baby darlin', why don't you come home?) 

Mrs. Bartlett says, " There is another version which is hardly fit for 
publication. I have had a hard time getting any of the words at all. 

" I went to the hop-joint, 
I could n't control my mind. 
Pulled out my forty-five 
And shot that gal of mine. 
(Oho, my baby, take a-one on me!) 



NEGRO BALLADS 91 

"From the refrain I am inclined to connect this version with that 
once widely sung ditty : 

TOM CAT 



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Fun-ni-est thing that ev - er I seen, Was a torn - cat stitchin' on a 



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sewin' ma-chine! O - ho, my ba - by, take a - one on me! . . 

" Funniest thing that ever I seen, 
Was a tom-cat stitchin' on a sewin' machine! 
Oho, my baby, take a-one on me! 

" Sewed so easy and he sewed so slow, 
Took ninety-nine stitches on the tom-cat's toe. 
Oho, my baby, take a-one on me! 

"The above words were subject to much juggling, and I am sure that 
many different words could be found, but I doubt if any would pass 
the censor save the two stanzas that I have given. The tune to the 
tom-cat song is slightly different from that of the regular Hop- Joint, 
and the refrain, or chorus, of so many of the songs will differ some- 
what. 

"Here are more stanzas to The Hop- Joint, 'Refined edition!' 

" Went up to the courthouse, 
My pistol in my hand; 
Says to the sheriff, 
'I'ma guilty man ! ' 
Oh, my baby, why don't you come home? 

" The judge he struck sentence, 
The jury they hung. 
' Gimme ninety-nine years, judge, 
For that awful crime I done!' 
Oh, my baby, why don't you come home? 

"Dr. Shaw sings the refrain, 

"Looking for my little baby, 
Honey, why don't you come home? " 

A ballad recounting the adventures of another colored bravo with 
a reckless gun is Stagolee. We may note how vivid (in the Negro's 



w 



92 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

rendering of the event) is the shooting-iron with which a crime is 
accomplished. The pistol, or "gun" as the Negro calls it, is one of 
the dramatis persona, by no means inactive or silent — for it has a 
speaking part all too often, with no request for encore, however, and 
is fondly and intimately described, usually as a forty-one, or a forty- 
five. Fewer crimes of violence are committed in the South now that 
prohibition has gone, even partially, into effect, and laws against 
" toting a pistol" are better enforced, which desirable state of affairs 
may perhaps result in a not so desirable paucity of stirring ballads 
in the future. 

Howard W. Odum, professor in the University of North Carolina, 
in an article in the Journal of American Folk-lore, reports several 
versions of Stagolee's carryings on. The first is sung by Negroes in 
Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama, as well as by Negro 
vagrants as they travel casually. 

Stagolee 

Stagolee, Stagolee, what's dat in yo' grip? 
Nothing but my Sunday clothes; I'm goin' to take a trip. 
Oh dat man, bad man, Stagolee done cornel 

Stagolee, Stagolee, where you been so long? 
I been out on de battle-fiel' shootin' an' havin' fun. 
Oh dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee was a bully man an' ev'ybody knowed, 
When dey seed Stagolee comin', to give Stagolee de road. 
dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee started out, he give his wife his han' ; 
" Good-bye, darlin', I'm goin' to kill a man." 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee killed a man an' laid him on de no'. 
What's dat he kill him wid? Dat same oP fohty-fo'.- 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee killed a man an' laid him on his side. 
What's dat he kill him wid? Dat same ol' fohty-five. 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Out o' de house an' down de street Stagolee did run, 
In his hand he held a great big smoking gun. 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 



NEGRO BALLADS 93 

Stagolee, Stagolee, I'll tell you what I'll do, 
If you'll git me out o' dis trouble, I'll do as much for you. 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Ain't it a pity, ain't it a shame, 
Stagolee was shot, but he don't want no name! 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee, Stagolee, look what you done done. 
Killed de bes' ole citizen; now you'll have to be hung. 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

Stagolee cried to de jury an' to de jedge: " Please don't take my 

life; 
I have only three little children an' one little lovin' wife." 
O dat man, bad man, Stagolee done come! 

A version with a different tune is sung more commonly in Georgia. 

I got up one morning jes' 'bout four o'clock; 
Stagolee an' big bully done have one finish fight; 
What 'bout? All 'bout dat rawhide Stetson hat. 

Stagolee shoot Bully; Bully fell down on de no'. 
Bully cry out, "Dat fohty-fo' hurts me so." 
Stagolee done killed dat Bully now. 

Sent for de wagon, wagon did n't come; 
Loaded down wid pistols an' all dat Gatlin' gun 
Stagolee done kill dat Bully now. 

Some giv' a nickel some giv' a dime; 

I did n't give a red copper cent, 'cause he's no friend of mine. 

Stagolee done kill dat Bully now. 

Carried po' Bully to de cemetery; people standin' round, 
When preacher say Amen, lay po' body down. 
Stagolee done kill dat Bully now. 

Fohty-dollar coflen, eighty-dollar hack, 

Carried po' man to de cemetery, but failed to bring him back. 

Ev'ybody been dodging Stagolee. 

The stanza relating the contributions of various amounts, as a 
nickel or a dime, refers to a racial custom in certain colored districts 
which has interest for folk-lorists. When a Negro dies with no visible 
funds to provide the funeral considered desirable, a collection is taken 
up to defray expenses. Dr. Sidney Williams, of Mississippi, recently 
told me of a dramatic instance of this kind. One dark Mississippian 



94 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

had " passed out," as they say, and his friends had made up the 
amount of ten dollars to buy his coffin. A colored man was started 
to town on a mule to buy the coffin. On his way he passed a couple 
of Negroes by the roadside, shooting craps. He could not resist join- 
ing them, though he had no money of his own; and so he yielded to 
the impulse to stake the funeral money. Throwing his ten dollars 
down dramatically, he staked it all on one throw. "Two coffins or 
none!" he cried. 

It turned out to be none, and so the corpse was buried wrapped in 
a sheet. I do not know what the contributors of the embezzled ten 
dollars did to the gambler. 

Worth Tuttle Hedden, formerly instructor in English in Straight 
College, New Orleans, sent a ballad which was sung by a student in 
the college, a young Galveston Negro. He reports that it is rather 
widely sung among the Negroes in Galveston, and he calls it "a love 
ballad." The hospital referred to is a local institution, and so the 
song undoubtedly must have originated in Galveston, and is prob- 
ably of somewhat recent origin. 

How Sad Was the Death or My Sweetheart 

I went to John Seley's hospital; 

The nurse there she turned me around. 
She turned me around, yes, so slowly, 

An' said, "The poor girl is sleepin' in the ground." 

I was walkin' down Walnut Street so lonely, 

My head it was hanging so low. 
It made me think of my sweetheart, 

Who was gone to a world far unknown. 

Let her go, let her go. 

May God bless her, wherever she may be. 

She is mine. 

She may roam this wide world over 

But she will never fin' a man like me. 

While walkin' I met her dear mother, 

With her head hangin' low as was mine. 

"Here's the ring of your daughter, dear mother, 
And the last words as she closed her eyes: 

" ' Take this ring, take this ring, 

Place it on your lovin' right hand. 
And when I am dead and forgotten 

Keep the grass from growing on my grave.' " 



NEGRO BALLADS 95 

The following sorrowful lines were given by Mrs. Busbee, of North 
Carolina, who says that they are sung by both whites and Negroes in 
her state. The diction and sentence arrangement do not seem par- 
ticularly negro in type, though it might be the composition of some 
colored preacher who loved high-sounding words and stilted sentence 
structure, while on the other hand, the intense emotion and the 
strong religious sentiment are characteristic of Negroes, and so the 
ballad may be theirs. At all events, it is theirs by adoption. 

The Lost Youth 

I saw a youth the other day, 

All in his bloom look fair and gay; 

He trifled all his time away 
And dropped into eternity. 
Oh, my soul! my soul! 

While lying on his dying bed, 

Eternity he seemed to dread. 
He said, "Oh, Lord, I see my state, 

But I'm afraid I'm come too late. 
Oh, my soul! my soul!" 

His kindly sisters standing by 

Saw their dear brother groan and die. 

He said, "Oh, sisters, pray for me, 
For I am lost in eternity. 
Oh, my soul! my soul!" 

His loving parents standing round, 

Their tears were falling to the ground. 

He said, "Oh, parents, farewell! 
By deeds I am drug to hell. 
Oh, my soul! my soul!" 

I think I heard some children say 

They never heard their parents pray. 

And think, dear parents, you must die, 
And like this youth, you, too, may cry, 
"Oh, my soul! my soul!" 

Numerous other ballads of the Negroes might be given if space 
permitted, but these will serve to illustrate the types, both of the 
slavery-time ballads and of the present. The subjects of song change 
as social and economic changes come, but the spirit of song persists, 
and the Negro to-day, as before the war, loves to preserve in picturing 
lines the events and characters that take his fancy, whether they be 



g6 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

from the Old Testament or from the factory or construction gang 
with which he works. His concepts take concrete form and show 
dramatic action. We can know but little of the ballads to-day as of 
the past; can rarely tell whence they arise or whither they go, borne 
on what vagrant winds of fancy to ephemeral or permanent remem- 
brance, or to swift forgetfulness. They come as obscurely as the 
boll weevil which they celebrate, so that we cannot be sure just how 
or when; we can know only that they are here to-day, perhaps to re- 
main, or perchance to vanish as secretly as they appeared. Many, 
we may be certain, have sprung up, but failed of the fostering voice 
which might have carried them on to wider knowledge, of the 
friendly imagination which added to them here and there, while 
others no more worthy in themselves have happily caught the fancy 
of good "songsters" and passed from lip to lip till many learned 
them and cherished them. 

These ballads are crude, yes, but they have vitality, and they de- 
serve our study, since they are products of our own land, reflections 
of aspects of our own society. There is no need to scorn them on the 
ground that they were not made by gentlefolk, as some of the Eng- 
lish and Scotch ballads were; but we should do well to study them, 
both for their interest and for their association with the race from 
which they spring. If we would know the Negro, let us study his 
songs. Who can say to what extent the Negro's life has been shown 
in his songs, or how much they have influenced it? 



IV 
DANCE-SONGS OR "REELS" 

DOWN through the years the old dance tunes tinkle gaily. They 
have a vitality to match that of the boll weevil sung of in the 
darky's ballad, for they survived not only time but the stern dis- 
couragement of man. They have a brave laughter that endured in 
spite of public disfavor and threatening thunders from the pulpit. In 
many sections of the South, the Negro, who by nature is aquiver 
with rhythm, was forbidden to give expression to his impulse in the 
dance; and to the collector of folk-lore it is a mournful thing that 
many of the old dance-songs should have been allowed to die. But 
many survived — as the dance persisted despite opposition. 

This ban on dancing was set up, not by the white masters, but by 
the Negroes themselves, or by their religious leaders. The dances 
that the captured slaves brought over with them from Africa were 
heathen and obscene, and so they must be "laid aside" in the new 
life. They were permitted, with certain restrictions, in the sections 
under Latin influence, — French and Spanish, — but not elsewhere. 
And even the crude plantation dances were thought reprehensible in 
many other districts. Wherever the Negro was under strong reli- 
gious influence, Methodist or Baptist, he thought dancing a sin — to 
be held to defiantly by the unregenerate but to be given up with 
fervor by the converted. Dancing was apparently an evil more ter- 
rible than most of the offences mentioned in the Decalogue, and 
the darky must have wondered why the Almighty was so absent- 
minded as to have left it out of his ten commandments. Certainly 
the Negro preacher was guilty of no such omission. So gay defiant 
youth danced on, while elders shuddered. But when the youth "got 
religion" and joined the church, he was expected to forego such 
revelry and cleanse his mind of "devil songs." 

He did this so effectively that it is next to impossible to coax any 
dance-song from an elderly colored person. White heads wag re- 
proachfully at me when I beg for "reels." 

"Dem is devil songs, mistis, an' I doan hold with sech," an old man 
in Birmingham told me. 

"But didn't you use to know them when you were young? 
Did n't you dance them?" I persisted. 



9 8 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



" Yes, mistis, I is been a powerful sinner in mah day. But bress de 
Lawd, I'se got religion in time!" 

"Don't you remember them?" 

He fixed an eye of rebuke upon me. "Yes, mistis, I knows dem. 
But I ain' gwine backslide by talkin' 'bout 'em. Ef you wants 
' reels' you'll have to go hunt up some o' dem young sinner folks. 
Not me, naw, not me!" 

There was an old woman in Mississippi, almost a hundred years 
old, who said: 

"Honey, I 'se got one foot in de grabe. I 'se done made mah peace 
wid Hebben. You ain' want me to draw back now, is you?" 

In some sections, the church leaders tried to compromise with the 
desire to dance by encouraging "shouts," which were spirited, reli- 
gious marchings or dancings in the church, to be indulged in by the 
irrepressible young and tolerated by the elders. This is an expres- 
sion of the same spirit which substituted the song-games for dancing, 
among the whites, whose old play-party songs still have a lusty 
vitality in outlying districts. 

Some of the dances were so simple that they could be danced with- 
out the aid of instruments. All that was needed was someone to 
"pat and sing," to mark the rhythmic time by clapping of the hands. 
Even the reptiles knew those measures, for does n't the song-frag- 
ment tell us 

As I come 'long de new-cut road, 
Met Mister Terrapin and Mister Toad. 
De Toad begin to pat an' sing, 
While Terrapin cut de pigeon-wing. 

One of the best known of the simple old dances was Juba, the tune 
of which is so elemental that it has practically but two notes — no 
more. The late Dr. John A. Wyeth gave me the air to this, and the 
words were sent in by various contributors. 



JUBA 



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Ju - ba dis an' Ju - ba dat, Ju - ba kill a yal - ler cat; 



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Ju - ba up an' Ju - ba down, Ju - ba run-ning all a -round 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



99 



Juba dis an' Juba dat, 
Juba kill a yaller cat; 
Juba up an' Juba down, 
Juba running all around. 

Dr. Wyeth said that this is one of the best known of the "jig," or 
short-step, dance tunes of the old South. It was very effective when 
played on the banjo, as it has a lively tempo. Some reporters give 
an ending, " Jump, Juba." 

Dr. Wyeth said that this is an old African melody. The primitive 
African music has few tones, and the dance is more in unison with the 
beat of the drum than the more elaborate instruments. Juba has a 
rat-tat and a skirl reminiscent of the tom-toms. The Negroes said 
that Juba was an old African ghost. 

The primitive dancing of the Negro is simple. Dr. Wyeth said: 
"The Negro's idea of harmony is right on the earth, deals only with 
the material, showing his low order of development. In dancing, his 
steps must go on to the ground. The Negro must pat, must make 
some noise on the earth to correspond, whereas an Indian in his 
dancing deals with an emotion away from the earth." 

Dr. Wyeth gave another jig, Ole Aunt Kate, which he said was elab- 
orated from Juba. The words to this and the two songs following 
are included in his book, " With Sabre and Scalpel." The tune is very 
like Juba, but there are more than two tones. This also expresses a 
primitive mood and is wholly negro in conception and expression. 



OLE AUNT KATE 



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Ole Aunt Kate she bake de cake, She bake hit 'hine de gar-den gate; She 




sift de meal, she gim-me de dust, She bake de bread, she gim-me de crust, She 



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eat de meat, she gim-me de skin, An' dat 's de way she tuck me in. 

Ole Aunt Kate she bake de cake, 
She bake hit 'hine de garden gate; 
She sift de meal, she gimme de dust, 
She bake de bread, she gimme de crust, 
She eat de meat, she gimme de skin, 
An' dat's de way she tuck me in. 



IOO 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



It has a little swing that is individual and yet characteristically 
" darky." 

The Negro's music goes from one harmony to another, with no 
discord, and is like the harmony of nature. Dr. Wyeth gave an old 
dance-song, Jimmy Rose, which he said a Negro on his plantation 
had made up. "You can just hear in it a darky jog along in a jog- 
trot on a mule." 

JIMMY ROSE 



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Jim - my Rose, he went to town, — Jim -my Rose, he went to town, 

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Jim - my Rose, he went to town, — To 'com -mo-date de la - dies. 



Jimmy Rose, he went to town, 
Jimmy Rose, he went to town, 
Jimmy Rose, he went to town, 
To 'commodate de ladies. 

Fare ye well, ye ladies all, 
Fare ye well, ye ladies all, 
Fare ye well, ye ladies all, 
God Ermighty bless you! 

Dr. Wyeth performed magical tricks with a banjo, as he had been 
taught by old Uncle Billy in slavery times. He evoked melodies of 
wistful gaiety by drawing a handkerchief across the banjo strings, 
and lively tunes by playing it with a whisk-broom. And when he 
danced some of the old breakdowns for me, just to show how they 
went, I felt transported to an old plantation of days before the war. 

Another of the dance-songs he gave me was Johnny Booker. 

I went down to de back of de fieF; 
A black snake cotch me by de heel. 
I cut my dus', I run my bes', 
I run right into a horney's nes'. 

Chorus 

Oh, do, Mr. Booker, do! Oh, do, Mr. Booker, do! 

Oh, do, Mr. Booker, Johnny Booker, 

Mr. Booker, Mr. Booker, Johnny Booker, do! 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 101 

The instruments used by the Negroes in early times were crude 
and for the most part home-made. As one Negro musician of the 
South said to me recently, "It seems sad to think that the Negro, 
who so loved music, in the old days had no chance to learn it properly 
and no suitable instruments to play on." Yet he worked miracles of 
music with what he could construct himself. He had, first and fore- 
most, the fiddle, — which he played for the dances at the "great 
house," — which was a fiddle and never a violin. Then he had the 
banjo, a native contrivance dear to his heart. Thomas Jefferson in 
his " Notes on Virginia " (1774) says that the Negroes are naturally 
musical. "The instrumental proper to them is the 'banjar,' which 
they brought hither from Africa." This instrument had four strings 
(instead of five as now) and the head was covered with rattlesnake 
skin. 

Dr. Wyeth, who spent his childhood and youth on a large planta- 
tion in the South, said that the banjo was the favorite musical 
instrument of the Negroes as he knew them. They fashioned this 
crude device for themselves, out of such materials as they could find. 
They could make a banjo from a large gourd — that useful growth 
which served many purposes in old times, and still does in certain 
country places where it is the drinking cup. The gourd for the banjo 
must have a long straight neck or handle. The bowl would be cut 
away level with the handle, the seeds taken out, and a cover of 
tanned coonskin stretched tightly over it like a drumhead. The 
strings, of crude material, were passed over a bridge near the centre 
of the drumhead and attached to the keys on the neck. 

An old song given me by Joseph A. Turner, of Hollins, Virginia, 
mentions a crude banjo. The music to this was written down for me 
by Ruth Hibbard, of Hollins College. 

Brother Ephrum Got de Coon and Gone on 

I went down to my pea-patch 

To see if my ole hen had hatch. 

Ole hen hatch and tellin' of her dream, 

And de little chickens pickin' on de tambourine. 

Chorus 
Brother Ephrum got de coon and gone on and gone on and gone on, 
Brother Ephrum got de coon and gone on 
And left me here behind. 

I see a rabbit a-runnin' down de fiel'; 
I say, " Mister Rabbit, whar you gwine?" 



102 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



She say, "I ain't got no time for to fool wid you, 
Dar's a white man comin' on behind." 

Chorus 
Marsa bought a yaller gal, 
He brought her right from de South, 
And de hayr on her head was wrop so tight 
Dat de sun shone in her mouth. 

Chorus 
Lips jes' like a cherry, 
Cheeks jes' like a rose. 
How I loves dat yaller gal 
Lord Almighty knows! 

Chorus 
I had a little banjo, 
De strings was made of twine, 
And de only tune dat I could play 
Was, I wish dat gal was mine! 

Chorus 

Mr. Turner says, " There are numerous other verses to this song, 
but these are all that I can recall at this time. I am sure that others 
will be contributed from other sources." 

Another favorite instrument was the jawbone. This has been 
described to me by various people who knew the South in slavery 
times. It was the jawbone of a horse or ox or mule, with the teeth 
left in, which made a queer sound when a key or other piece of metal 
was drawn across the teeth. This is mentioned in a letter from an 
elderly Virginia woman. 

"I have in times past tried to learn something from old darkies 
here in Charlottesville, darkies even that had belonged to Thomas 
Jefferson, but without any success. There is one exception to this 
statement. When I was about ten years old a family from Fluvanna 
County settled within half a mile of us. They had several slaves 
who sometimes came to our house at night and gave us music, vocal 
and instrumental, the instruments being banjo, jawbone of horse, 
and bones (to crack together, two held in one hand). In singing, the 
player took any part. He would sing a few words here and there and 
let his banjo fill in the gap. One piece only do I remember anything 
about, and all I remember is : 

RISE, OLE NAPPER 



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v -#- -4- -#- -#- -e- -*- -#- -#- -&- 

Rise, ole Napper, ketch him, ketch him. Rise, ole Napper, ketch him by de wool. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 103 

" Rise, ole Napper, ketch him, ketch him. 
Rise, ole Napper, ketch him by de wool. 

"This bit of song was sung some seventy years ago." 

Another ancient fragment given by Katherine Love, of Virginia, 
whose grandmother learned it from the slaves on her plantation, 
mentions the jawbone. 

I went to old Napper's house, 

Old Napper was n't at home. 

I took my seat by the pretty yaller gal 

And I picked upon the old jawbone. 

Refrain 
Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me. 
I 'm jus' from Alabama with my banjo on my knee. 

Dr. John A. Wyeth sang for me an old bit of song about the jaw- 
bone: 

De jawbone walk, 

And de jawbone talk, 

And de jawbone eat 

Wid a knife and fork. 

I lef my jawbone on de fence, 

An' I ain't seed dot jawbone sence. 

The jawbone is mentioned in an old song sent by Joseph Turner, 
of Hollins, Virginia. Ruth Hibbard wrote down the music for this 
also. 

Dweley 

Me and Dweley standing in the rain, Dweley, 

Me and Dweley standing in the rain, Dweley, Eeeooo ! 

Me and Dweley standing in the rain, 

Some folks say we was insane, Dweley! 

Git up son, done sleeper too late dis mornin' ! 

Git up, son, done sleeper too late dis mornin', Eeeooo! 

Git up son, done sleeper too late, 

Crawfish man done pass your gate, dis mornin'! 

What do you reckon de lighternin' done dis mornin'? 
What you reckon de lighternin' done dis mornin', Eeeooo? 
What you reckon de lighternin' done? 
It come to my house and killed my son dis mornin' ! 

Jawbone hangin' on de fence dis mornin', 
Jawbone hangin' on de fence dis mornin', Eeeooo! 
Jawbone hangin' on de fence 
And I ain't seen my jawbone since dis mornin' ! 



104 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Miss Jean Feild reports a variant. 

LULA GAL 

Chorus 



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Lu - la gal, Lu - la gal, Lu - la gal, Lu - la 



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Tie ma shoe, boy, tie ma shoe. Tie ma shoe, boy, tie ma shoe. 
Verse 



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Jawbone walk and a jawbone talk, — Jawbone eat with a knife and fork. 



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Lef ' ma jawbone in de cawnah ob de fence, An' I hab not seen ma jawbone sence. 

Jawbone walk and a jawbone talk, 
Jawbone eat with a knife and fork. 
Lef ma jawbone in de cawnah ob de fence, 
An' I hab not seen ma jawbone sence. 

Chorus 
Lula gal, Lula gal, Lula gal, Lula gal, 
Tie ma shoe, boy, tie ma shoe. 
Tie ma shoe, boy, tie ma shoe. 

This gruesome instrument, whose crude music livened many a 
country dance, is mentioned in various songs. The versatile darky, 
deprived of instruments that others use, could contrive his own, 
which gave him vast pleasure though they could not satisfy his 
music-loving soul. 

Other instruments were bones held between the different fingers of 
one hand and rattled with gay lugubriousness. Then, lacking any- 
thing else, a Negro could draw wailful music from a comb covered 
with tissue paper, which he used as a mouth instrument. These were 
used until recently — and may still be found, as I have often heard 
music of bones and comb. 

^A well-known dance-song of the old times was Josey or JimA-long, 
Josey, which I have often heard my mother sing. My cousin, Mrs. 
E. H. Ratchliffe, of Natchez, Mississippi, also gave me a part of the 
version given below. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



ios 



Jim A-long, Josey 

O, I'se from Louisiana, as you all know, 
Dar whar Jim a-long, Josey 's all de go. 
De niggers all rise when de bell do ring, 
And dis is de song dat dey do sing: 

Chorus 
Hey, get a-long, get a-long, Josey, 
Hey, get a-long, Jim a-long, Jo! 
Hey, get a-long, get a-long, Josey, 
Hey, get a-long, Jim a-long, Jo ! 

My sister Rose, de udder night did dream 
Dat she was floating down de stream, 
When she woke up she 'gin to cry, 
And de white cat picked out de black cat's eye. 

Chorus 
Away down south, a long ways off, 
A bullfrog died wid de whooping-cough, 
And t'other side of Mississippi, as you know, 
Was whar I was called fust Jim a-long, Jo. 

Chorus 

O, when I gets dat new coat dat I hopes to hab soon, 
I'll walk my gal by de light of de moon; 
As I walks up and down de road wid my Susanna, 
De white folks gwine take me to be Santa Anna. 

Chorus 

The reference to Santa Anna seems to establish a fair antiquity for 
the song. 

We find reference to this old song and dance in a dance-song given 
me by Mr. W. R. Boyd, Jr. This is danced like a Virginia reel. 



HOLD MY MULE 



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Hold my mule while I dance Jos-ey, Hold my mule while I dance Josey, 



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Hold my mule while I dance Jos - ey, Oh, Miss Sus - an Brown. 

Hold my mule while I dance Josey, 
Hold my mule while I dance Josey, 
Hold my mule while I dance Josey 
Oh, Miss Susan Brown. 



106 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Would n't give a nickel if I could n't dance Josey, 
Would n't give a nickel if I could n't dance Josey, 
Would n't give a nickel if I could n't dance Josey, 
Oh, Miss Susan Brown. 

Had a glass of buttermilk and I danced Josey, 
Had a glass of buttermilk and I danced Josey, 
Had a glass of buttermilk and I danced Josey, 
Oh, Miss Susan Brown. 

Here is a variant of the Josey song, that combines stanzas from 
other well-known favorites. This was sent to me by Virginia Fitz- 
gerald, from Virginia. 

As I was going up a new-cut road, 
I met a Tarrepin an' a Toad. 
Every time the Toad would jump, 
The Tarrepin dodge behine a stump. 

O ! rail, rail, Miss Dinah gal, 

O! do come along, my darling! 

O! rail, rail, Miss Dinah gal, 

O! do come along, my darling! 

My ole Missis promise me 

When she died she'd set me free; 

Now ole Missis dead an' gone, 

She lef ole Sambo hillin' up corn. 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, a-Josie, 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, Joe! 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, from Baltimo' ! 

You go round an' I go through, 



You get there befo' I do, 
Tell 'em all I'm comin', too. 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, Josie! 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, Joe ! 

Hey, Jim a-long, Jam a-long, from Baltimo ' ! 

Another famous old dance-song, well known especially in Texas, 
is called 'T ain't Gwine Rain No Mo\ One couple enters on the floor 
with the first stanza and another with each succeeding stanza, till all 
those present are in the dance. The air and part of the words were 
given me by Mabel Cranfill, of Dallas, Texas, and various Texans 
contributed other stanzas. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



107 



T AIN'T GWINE RAIN NO MO* 



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Steal up, ev - 'ry - bod - y, 'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Ole cow died at the mouth of the branch, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 
The buzzards had a public dance, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

'T ain't gwine rain, 

'T ain't gwine snow, 

T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 

Steal up, ev'rybody, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

What did the blackbird say to the crow? 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 
'T ain't gwine hail an' 't ain't gwine snow, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

Gather corn in a beegum hat, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo' ; 
Ole massa grumble ef you eat much of that, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 
Two, two, and round up four, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 
Two, two, and round up four, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Six, two, and round up four, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo' ; 
Six, two, and round up four, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

The last line of the chorus is for all to "steal up" in the dance. 



Chorus 



108 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

W. R. Boyd, Jr., formerly of Teague, Texas, gave part of a differ- 
ent version, to which various Texans in New York added stanzas. 

Rabbit skipped de garden gate, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 
Picked a pea and pulled his freight, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 
Oh, ladies! 

T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 
'T ain't gwine to sleet, 't ain't gwine snow, 
'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Rabbit et a turnip top, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo' ; 
He went off a-hippity-hop, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

Rabbit hiding behind a pine, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 
Had one eye shut an' t'other eye blind, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

Bake them biscuits good and brown, 

'T ain't gwine rain no mo'; 
Swing yo' ladies round and round, 

5 T ain't gwine rain no mo'. 

Chorus 

One can hear the scrape of the lively riddle playing the tune and 
the fiddler's voice singing the song, as the couples go through the 
spirited dance. The leader starts the song and all present join in, so 
there is communal singing as well as dancing — perhaps a fashion 
too strenuous for weary city-folk, but enjoyed by rustic dancers. 
Other variants to this are known in Texas. 

There is an old song reported from various states, under several 
names with differing choruses, but a lively memory with many 
people. This version was given by Lucy Dickinson Urquhart, of 
Lynchburg, Virginia, contributed through the kindness of Lois 
Upshaw, of Dallas, Texas, who wrote down the music. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



109 



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OL' VIRGINNY NEVER TIRE 



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There is a gal 



our town, She wears a yal - low 



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strip - ed gown, And when she walks the streets a - roun', The 



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hol - low of her foot makes a hole in the groun'. 
Chorus 



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01' folks, young folks, cl'ar the kitch-en, OF folks, young folks, 



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cl'ar the kitch-en. 01' Vir - gin - ny nev - er tire. . . . 

There is a gal in our town, 

She wears a yallow striped gown, 

And when she walks the streets aroun', 

The hollow of her foot makes a hole in the groun'. 

Chorus 

OF folks, young folks, cl'ar the kitchen, 
01' folks, young folks, cl'ar the kitchen. 
01' Virginny never tire. 

As I was walkin' up the Three Chop Road 
I met a terrapin and a toad. 
Ev'ry time the toad would jump, 
The terrapin dodged behind a stump. 

Chorus 

This was an old dance-song, which Mrs. Dickinson's grandmother 
sang, as she had learned it from the slaves. There were various other 
stanzas, she says. The Three Chop Road is in the outskirts of 
Richmond, a famous old road, which Mary Johnston mentions in 
one of her novels. 



no NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Edwin Swain, formerly of Florida, reported a different chorus as 
sung in his state in his boyhood. 

01' folks, young folks, cl'ar de kitchen, 
OF folks, young folks, cl'ar de kitchen, 
Jinny, git yo' hoecake round. 

Mr. Dowd and Miss Cohen, of Charleston, South Carolina, say 
that the Negroes in their state sang this chorus: 

01' folks, young folks, cl'ar de kitchen, 
For de ol' Virginny reel. 

Garnett Eskew, of West Virginia, reports the song under a dif- 
ferent title. 

Dar Was a Gal in our Town 

Dar was a gal in our town, 

She had a yallow, striped gown, 
An' ebery time she put her foot down 

De hollow of her heel make a hole in de ground. 

Chorus 
Children, don't get weary, 
Children, don't get weary, 
Children, don't get weary, 
Love come a-trinklin' down. 

Jay bird sittin' on a swingin' limb, 

He winked at me an' I winked at him. 
Picked up a rock an' hit him on de chin. 

"Look heah, Nigger, don't you do dat agin!" 

Chorus 

An old version, attributed to T. Rice, goes as follows: 

In old Kentuck in de arternoon, 

We sweep de floor wid a bran new broom, 

And arter dat we form a ring 

And dis de song dat we do sing: 

Chorus 
Oh, clare de kitchen, old folks, young folks, 
Clare de kitchen, old folks, young folks, 
Old Virginny neber tire. 

I went to de creek, I could n't get across, 
I'd nobody wid me but an old blind horse; 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 1 1 1 

But old Jim Crow come riding by, 

Says he, "Old feller, your horse will die." 

Chorus 
My horse fell down upon de spot; 
Says he, "Don't you see his eyes is sot?" 
So I took out my knife and off wid his skin, 
And when he comes to life I '11 ride him agin. 

Chorus 
A jay bird sot on a hickory limb, 
He winked at me and I winked at him. 
I picked up a stone and I hit his shin, 
Says he, "You better not do dat agin." 

Chorus 

A bull frog dressed in sojer's clo'se, 
Went in de field to shoot some crows; 
De crows smell powder and fly away; 
De bull frog mighty mad dat day. 

Chorus 

Den I went down wid Cato Moore, 

To see de steamboat come ashore. 

Every man for himself, so I picked up a trunk; 

"Leff off," said de captain, "or burn you wid a chunk." 

Chorus 
I hab a sweetheart in dis town, 
She wears a yellow striped gown, 
And when she walks de streets around, 
De hollow of her foot make a hole in de ground. 

Chorus 

Dis love it is a ticklish thing, you know, 
It makes a body feel all over so ; 
I put de question to coal-black Rose, 
She black as ten of spades and got a lubly flat nose. 

Chorus 

"Go away," said she, "wid your cowcumber shin, 
If you come here agin I stick you wid a pin." 
So I turn on my heel and I bid her good-bye, 
And arter I was gone she began for to cry. 

Chorus 
So now I'se up and off, you see, 
To take a julep sangaree, 
I'll sit upon a 'tater hill 
And eat a little whippoorwill. 

Chorus 



112 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I wish I was back in old Kentuck, 
For since I left it I had no luck; 
De gals so proud dey won't eat mush, 
And when you go to court 'em dey say, hush ! 

Chorus 

Perhaps Rice — if he did compose this version — used an old 
folk-song as his basis; and certainly there are fragments of various 
authentic folk-songs in this salmagundi. 

In various parts of the country, versions of the following song, or 
at least of this chorus, are heard, with different local references: 

Oh, Louisiana gal, won't you come out to-night, 

Won't you come out to-night, 

Won't you come out to-night? 

Louisiana gal, won't you come out to-night, 

And dance by the light of the moon? 

Oh, yaller gal, won't you come out to-night, 

Won't you come out to-night, 

Won't you come out to-night? 

Oh, yaller gal, won't you come out to-night, 

And dance by the light of the moon? 

Buffalo gal, won't you come out to-night, 
Won't you come out to-night, 
Won't you come out to-night? 
Buffalo gal, won't you come out to-night, 
And dance by the light of the moon? 

I '11 give you a dollar if you '11 come out to-night, 

If you'll come out to-night, 

If you '11 come out to-night, 

I '11 give you a dollar if you '11 come out to-night, 

And dance by the light of the moon. 

A Texas variant adds this stanza, which is from another old song 
— or a part of it is, at least : 

I danced with a girl with a hole in her stockin', 

And her heel kep' a-rockin', 

And her heel kep' a-rockin' ; 

I danced with a girl with a hole in her stockin', 

We danced by the light of the moon. 

These versions are variations of the chorus of an old song of whose 
authorship I have found no trace. Possibly it is a minstrel. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 
BUFFALO GALS 



113 






Chorus 



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Buf - fa - lo gals, can't you come out to - night, Can't you 



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come out to-night, Can't you come out to-night? Buf - fa - lo gals, can't you 



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come out to - night, and dance by de light ob de 
Verse 



moon? 



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As I was lumb'ring down de street, Down de street, down de street, 



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Ahan'somegal I chanced to meet, Oh, she was fair to view! 

As I was lumb'ring down de street, 
Down de street, down de street, 
A han'some gal I chanced to meet, 
Oh, she was fair to view! 

Chorus 
Buffalo gals, can't you come out to-night, 
Can't you come out to-night, 
Can't you come out to-night? 
Buffalo gals, can't you come out to-night, 
And dance by de light ob de moon? 

I axed her would she hab some talk, 
Hab some talk, hab some talk. 
Her feet covered up de whole sidewalk, 
As she stood close by me. 

Chorus 

I axed her would she hab a dance, 
Hab a dance, hab a dance. 
I thought dat I might get a chance, 
To shake a foot wid her. 

Chorus 



ii 4 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



I'd like to make dat gal my wife, 

Gal my wife, gal my wife. 

I'd be happy all my life 

If I had her by me. Chorus 

Mr. W. R. Boyd, of Teague, Texas, sent me the following old song, 
sung at dances by the slaves on the plantation before the war: 

I rock from Selma, ting tang, 
I'm a Georgia ruler, ting tang, 
I'se a Mobile gentleman, Susie-annah, 
Loan me de gourd to drink wa-a-ter ! 

Chorus 
Den all back-shuffle and clap yo' hands; 
All back-shuffle and clap yo' hands; 
All back-shuffle and clap yo' hands, 
Oh, Miss Susie-annah I 

Come shuffle up, ladies, ting tang, 

Oh, Miss Williams, ting tang, 

Miss Williams is a-beatin' yo', Susie-annah; 

Loan me dat gourd to drink wa-a-ter! 

Chorus 

This could be varied to suit the native places of the masculine 
dancers and singers and the names of the feminine. 

W. R. Boyd, Jr., now of New York, contributed another old song, 
the dance to which it was sung being like a Virginia reel. 



IN SOME LADY'S GARDEN 



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In some 

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gar - den, You walk so high you can't get out, So 

Chorus 

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fare you well my dar - ling. Oh, swing a la - dy ump-tum, 




Swing a la - dy round, Swing a la - dy ump - turn, Prom-e - nade a-round. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



"5 



In some lady's fine brick house, 

In some lady's garden, 
You walk so high you can't get out, 

So fare you well, my darling. 

Chorus 
Oh, swing a lady ump-tum, 

Swing a lady round, 
Swing a lady ump-tum, 

Promenade around. 

The stanza is its own description of the gay movement of the old 
dance. One can fairly see the spirited swing to and fro. 

Two dance-songs were given to Miss Gulledge in Charlotte, North 
Carolina, by Negro women who said that they had danced to them 
years ago. The words are rather nonsensical, but the women, 
Bertha Merion and Esther Mackey, said that they indicated the 
dance movements rather than anything else. 



DANCE-SONG 



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Lead a man, di - dee - o, lead a 



di - dee - o; Lead a 



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di - dee - o, lead a man, di - dee - o. You swing 



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heads, di - dee - o, 



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Ain't dat 



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nice, di - dee - o, walk-in' on de ice, di - dee 

Lead a man, di-dee-o, lead a man, di-dee-o; 
Lead a man, di-dee-o, lead a man, di-dee-o. 
You swing heads, di-dee-o, I swing feet, di-dee-o, 
Ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, walkin' on de ice, di-dee-o! 

Ladies change, di-dee-o, ladies change, di-dee-o; 
Ladies change, di-dee-o, ladies change, di-dee-o. 
Ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, 
Ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, ain't dat nice, di-dee-o? 



n6 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Oh, my love, di-dee-o, oh, my love, di-dee-o, 
Oh, my love, di-dee-o, oh, my love, di-dee-o! 
Ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, 
Ain't dat nice, di-dee-o, ain't dat nice, di-dee-o? 

The words to the next have little coherence or logic, evidently being 
used merely as an excuse to bring in the directions of stealing up in 
the dance. 

MY MAMMY STOLED A COW 



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my stoled a cow 



Steal up, young la - dies, My mam 





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Steal up, 
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my dar - lin' 


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my stoled a cow. 


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Stoled dat cow in Bal - ti - mo', My mam - my stoled a cow. 

Steal up, young ladies, 

My mammy stoled a cow. 
Steal up, my darlin' chile, 

My mammy stoled a cow. 

Chorus 
Stoled dat cow in Baltimo', 

My mammy stoled a cow. 
Stoled dat cow in Baltimo', 

My mammy stoled a cow. 

Steal all round, don't slight no one, 

My mammy stoled a cow; 
Steal all round, don't slight no one, 

My mammy stoled a cow. 

Chorus 

The following song was heard sung by slaves in York County, 
South Carolina, by Dr. W. F. More, when he was a boy : 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 
MISS MARY JANE 



117 




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Rid -in' in de bug -gy, Miss Ma - ry Jane, Miss Ma - ry Jane, Miss 




Ma - ry Jane, Rid - in' in de bug - gy, Miss Ma - ry Jane, I'm a 
Chorus 



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long ways from home. Who moan for me? Who moan for me? 



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Who moan for me, my dar - lin'? Who moan for me? 

Ridin' in de buggy, 

Miss Mary Jane, 

Miss Mary Jane, 

Miss Mary Jane, 
Ridin' in de buggy, 

Miss Mary Jane, 
I 'm a long ways from home. 

Chorus 
Who moan for me? 
Who moan for me? 
Who moan for me, my darlin'? 
Who moan for me? 

Sally got a house 

In Baltimo', 

Baltimo', 

Baltimo', 
Sally got a house 

In Baltimo', 
An' it 's full o' chicken pie. Chorus 

I got a gal 

In Baltimo', 

Baltimo', 

Baltimo', 
I got a gal 

In Baltimo', 
And she's three stories high. 



Ii8 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

The dances and the dance-songs of the Creole Negroes — that is, of 
the slaves belonging to Creoles, the French and Spanish people in 
certain sections of the South, more especially Louisiana — were dif- 
ferent from those of the other slaves. Not only was the language 
different, being the Creole patois, — that strange tongue representing 
the struggles of Africans with the highly cultured French language, 
which contains vocal sounds not found in primitive African dialects, 
— but the dances also were more barbaric and unrestrained, nearer 
to the jungle. 

In an article, "The Dance in Place Congo," in the Century Maga- 
zine, 1886, George W. Cable tells of the dances among the Louisiana 
Negroes in slavery times, of barbaric celebrations so indecent that 
they were finally forbidden by law. He describes the instruments 
used with these primitive, sinister dances, which were very different 
from the merry-making of Negroes in other sections : 

"The booming of African drums and blast of huge wooden horns 
called to the gathering. . . . The drums were long, hollowed, often 
from a single piece of wood, open at one end and having a sheep- or 
goat-skin stretched across the other. One was large, the other much 
smaller. The tight skin heads were not held up to be struck; the 
drums were laid along on the turf and the drummers bestrode them, 
and beat them on the head madly with fingers, fists and feet — with 
slow vehemence on the great drum, and fiercely and rapidly on the 
small one. Sometimes an extra performer sat on the ground behind 
the larger drum at its open end and ■ beat ' upon the wooden sides of 
it with two sticks." 

The smaller drum was often made from a joint or two of very 
large bamboo, in the West Indies where such could be got, and this 
is said to be the origin of its name, for it was called "bamboula." 

"A queer thing that went with these when the affair was preten- 
tious was the Marimba brett, a union of reed and string principles. A 
single strand of wire ran lengthwise a bit of wooden board, some- 
times a shallow box of thin wood, some eight inches long by four or 
five wide, across which, under the wire, were several joints of reed 
about a quarter of an inch in diameter and of graduated lengths. 
The performer, sitting cross-legged, held the board in both hands 
and plucked the ends of the reeds with his thumb-nails. But the 
grand instrument was — the banjo. ... For the true African 
dance, a dance not so much of legs and feet as of the upper part of 
the body, a sensual, devilish thing tolerated only by Latin-American 
masters, there was wanted the dark inspiration of the African drum 
and the banjo's thrump and strum." 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



119 



Another instrument which they used sometimes was the "reed- 
pipe" or "quill." Mr. Krehbiel gave a "quill tune," which a gentle- 
man from Alabama furnished him. 

The dance-songs of the Creoles are mostly nonsensical, but the 
music is haunting and wild, with a sensuous appeal appropriate to 
their dances. 

One favorite dance-song was a senseless, interminable repetition of 
a line, "Quand papete la cuite na va mange li!" meaning "When 
the sweet potato is cooked, we shall eat it," according to one au- 
thority, and according to Cable, "When that 'tater 's cooked don't 
you eat it up!" Either way, there is little charm to the words, but 
the air has its wild appeal. It is repeated over and over and over. 
This is a song for the bamboula dance. 

In "Slave Songs of the United States " is printed a Creole slave 
song from Louisiana, making fun of a dandy Negro, which is also a 
bamboula. 



VOYEZ CE MULET LA 



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Vo-yez cemu-let \k, Mi -che Bain- jo, Comme il est in -so -lent! 



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main, Mi - che Bain - jo, Bottes qui fe crin, crin, Mi - che Bain - jo. 



Voyez ce mulet la, Miche Bain jo, 

Comme il est insolent! 
Chapeau sur cote, Miche Bainjo, 
La canne a la main, Miche Bainjo, 
Bottes qui fe crin, crin, Miche Bainjo. 
Voyez ce mulet la, Miche Bainjo, 

Comme il est insolent ! 



This, roughly translated, means : 



Look at that darky there, Mr. Banjo, 

Does n't he strut about ! 
Hat cocked on one side, Mr. Banjo, 



120 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



His cane in his hand, Mr. Banjo, 
Boots that go creak, creak, Mr. Banjo. 
Does n't he strut about? 

Another famous dance of the Creole Negroes was the counjaille. 
Cable gives part of one song which he says was one of the best-known 
of these counjaille songs, and was much over a hundred years old. 

A Creole lady in New Orleans gave me a variant of this old coun- 
jaille. 

UN DEUX TROIS 



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Un deux trois. Car - o - line qui fais com - me sa ma chere? 



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Maman dit oui, pa - pa dit non, Ce - lui mo lais, ce - lui mo prends. 



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Ma-man dit oui, pa - pa dit non, Ce - lui mo lais, ce - lui mo prends. 

Un, deux, trois. 

Caroline qui fais comme sa ma chere? 

Un, deux, trois. 

Caroline qui fais comme sa ma chere? 

Maman dit oui, papa dit non, 

Celui mo lais, celui mo prends. 

Maman dit oui, papa dit non, 

Celui mo lais, celui mo prends. 

Translated, this reads: 

One, two, three. 

Caroline, what is the matter with you, my dear? 

One, two, three. 

Caroline, what is the matter with you, my dear? 

Mama says yes, papa says no. 

It is he I wish, it is he I'll have. 

Mama says yes, papa says no. 

It is he I wish, it is he I'll have. 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 121 

Aurore Pradere is also a well-known counjaille song, Cable says. 
AURORE PRADERE 



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Au - rore Pra-dere, belle 'ti' fille, Au - rore Pra-dere, belle 'ti' fille, Au- 

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rore Pra-dere, belle 'ti' fille, C'est li mo ou - le, C'est li ma prend. 



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ca ye dit — Sia! Mo bin fou bin! C'est li mo ou - le, C'est li ma prend. 

The English version goes : 

Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
She's just what I want, and her I'll have. 

Solo. Some folks says she's too pretty quite; 
Some folks says she's not polite; 
All this they say — Psha-a-ah! 

More fool am I! 
For she's what I want and her I'll have. 

Chorus 
Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
Aurore Pradere, pretty maid, 
She's just what I want and her I'll have. 

Solo. Some say she's going to the bad, 
Some say her mamma went mad; 
All this they say — Psha-a-ah! 

More fool am I! 
For she's what I want and her I'll have. 

There was also the calinda, an indecent dance, which was for- 
bidden in Louisiana after 1843, tradition says. 



122 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



"The calinda was a dance of multitudes, a sort of vehement cotil- 
lion. The contortions of the encircling crowd were strange and ter- 
rible, the din was hideous. One calinda is still familiar to all Creole 
ears. It has long been a vehicle for the white Creole's satire. 
For generations the man in municipal politics was fortunate who 
escaped entirely a lampooning set to this air." 

Clara Gottschalk Peterson gives a song, Calinda, also, in her col- 
lection, "Creole Songs from New Orleans in the Negro Dialect." 
The translation of her song deals with a Mister Mazireau who seemed 
like a bullfrog. The refrain was 

Dance, dance, Calinda dim sin! bourn! bourn! 

Cable's version is of a Judge Prebal who gave a ball and charged 
three dollars for the tickets. It ends, 

. Dance Calinda, Bon-djoum! 
Dance Calinda, Bon Bon-djoum! 

In an article, " Creole Slave Songs," in the Century Magazine, 1886, 
George W. Cable gives various other dance-songs of the Creole slaves. 
One shows the satiric nature appearing in many of the Creole songs, 
as distinct from those of the slaves of other sections. It mocks the free 
colored folk, those who were bound by certain fixed conventions of 
their class. The quadroon woman, called here milatraisse, could go 
to the ball, which was frequented by certain types of white men, and 
the black man, called here by a name signinying crocodile, attended 
her to the ball to light her way by a lantern — there being no street 
lights then, and the free quadroon man could go to the ball only as 
a musician — a menial position in those days. 



MILATRAISSE COURRI DANS BAL 



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lou! C'est pas zaf-f aire a tou, C'est pas zaf-faire a tou, Trouloulou! 

Milatraisse courri dans bal, 
Cocodrie po'te fanal, 

Trouloulou! 
C'est pas zaffaire a tou, 
C'est pas zaffaire a tou, 
Trouloulou ! 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 123 

This says: 

Yellow girl goes to the ball, 
Nigger lights her to the hall, 

Fiddler man! 
Now, what is that to you? 
Say, what is that to you? 

Fiddler man? 

Other Creole songs were given me by Mrs. La Rose and Mrs. 
Deywoodt, of New Orleans. 

Le Chien 

II y a un petit chien chez nous, 

Qui remue les pattes, 

Qui remue les pattes, 

II y a un petit chien chez nous, 

Qui remue les pattes tout comme vous. 

Translated into English, this means : 

There 's a little dog at our house, 

Who shakes his feet, 

Who shakes his feet, 

There 's a little dog at our house, 

Who shakes his feet just like you. 

Another has to do with a young girl who married a very small man. 

M amman Donne Moi un Pitit Mari 

Mamman donne moi un pitit mari. 
Bon Dieu, quel le pitit! 
Mo mette le chouche dans mo lite, 
Bon Dieu, comme li si' t'on pitit! 
Chatte rentre et prende li pour un sourit. 
Bon Dieu, quel ti un homme qui li pitit! 

Roughly translated, this means : 

Mama Gave Me a Little Husband 

Mama gave me a little husband. 

My goodness, what a little man! 

I put him to sleep in my bed, — 

My goodness, what a little man! 

The cat enters and takes him for a mouse. 

My goodness, what a little man! 



124 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Another whimsical song, with not much meaning, is about a man 
walking on Common Street. 

MO-TE-A-PE PROMENE SUR LA RUE COMMUNE 

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Quand Mo - te a - pe boire un bon verre la bierre 

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la m'o cu - lot - te cra-quet et f ais moin as - si par-ter - re. 

Mo-te a-pe promene sur la Rue Commune, 
Quand Mo-te a-pe boire un bon berre la bierre. 
Voila m'o culotte craquet et fais moin assi par terre. 

What happened here was that a man was promenading on Common 
Street, in New Orleans, after he had had a drink of a good glass of 
beer. He met the narrator there and spanked him and made him sit 
down on the ground. The song gives no clue to any previous feud, 
but leaves the inference that perhaps the beer was to blame. 

There are many other old dance-songs of the slavery days which 
have survived. Miss Virginia Fitzgerald sends me this one from 
Virginia : 

Bile dem Cabbage Down 

Marster had a old gray rooster 
Uster crow for day. 
There came along a harricane, 
And blowed dat chicken away. 

Chorus 
Bile dem cabbage down, 
Bile dem cabbage down; 
Stop dat foolishness, I say, 
And bile dem cabbage down! 

Wish I had a tin box 
To keep my sweetheart in. 
I 'd take her out and kiss her 
And put her back agin. 

Chorus 



DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 125 

Wish I had a needle and thread 
As fine as I could sew. 
I 'd sew my sweetheart to my side 
And down de road I 'd go. 

Chorus 

Sebenteen hundred and sebenty-six, 
De year I got my jawbone fixed, 
I put my jawbone on de fence, 
And I ain't seen dat jawbone sence. 
Chorus 

Some folks say de Debbil 's dead 
And buried in a shoe. 
But I seed de Debbil t'other day 
And he looks jus' as good as you. 

Chorus 
If I had a scolding wife 
I 'd whoop 'er sho 's you born. 
Hitch her to a double plow 
And make her plow my corn. 

She says, "I live in a typical inland county where my people 
have lived since before the Revolution and where many of the old 
customs and traditions still survive. . . . The old lady who has 
given me most of my songs is now bedridden and she amuses herself 
by writing out what she can remember. . . . There is an old-time 
fiddler and banjo-player here and I will get him to help me with the 
music, though he is very shy about playing now. 

"This song was sung to me by an old lady of Nottaway County, 
Virginia, who had heard it before the war. The number of verses 
varies, but some at least are generally known. I have never heard a 
Negro sing it, but it is very hard to get a Nottaway Negro to sing 
anything but hymns. The music is suggestive of that of Polly- 
Wolly-Doodle, Susanna, etc., and has a Negro swing to it. The 
fiddlers used it as a dance tune." 

Thomas D. Rice, or Jim Crow Rice, as he was called, utilized an 
old Negro folk-song which he heard a slave sing in Louisville, Ken- 
tucky. William Winter relates the incident in his " Wallet of Time." 

Jim Crow was old and had a deformity that caused him to limp 
peculiarly as he walked, and he would croon a queer old song, and 
"set his heel a-rocking" with the refrain, 

Wheel about, turn about, do jes' so, 

And ebery time I wheel about, I jump Jim Crow! 



126 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Rice wrote other words for the song and elaborated a make-up after 
that of the old darky, and created a sensation with it in a minstrel 
show. 

The song attributed to Rice is as follows — though I do not know 
how much of it could be called a folk-song, or how much is Rice's 
composition. From various sections of the country I have received 
fragments of the song and the refrain, showing that it is a folk-song 
from usage, as well as in origin. 

Jim Crow 

Come, listen, all you gals and boys, 
I 'se just from Tuckyhoe. 
I 'm goin' to sing a little song, 
My name 's Jim Crow. 

I went down to de river, 
I did n't mean to stay; 
But dere I see so many gals 
I could n't get away. 

And arter I been dere awhile 
I t 'ought I push my boat; 
But I tumbled in de river 
An' I find myself afloat. 

I git upon a flat boat 

I cotch de Uncle Sam; 

Den I went to see de place where 

Dey killed de Packenham. 

An' den I go to New Orleans 
An' feel so full of fight, 
Dey put me in de Calaboose 
An' keep me dere all night. 

When I got out I hit a man,- 
His name I now forgot; 
But dere was nothin' left of him 
'Cept a little grease spot. 

Anoder day I hit a man, 
De man was mighty fat; 
I hit so hard I knocked him 
To an old cockt hat. 

I whipt my weight in wildcats, 
I eat an alligator, 
I drunk de Mississippy up! 
O, I'm de very creature! 






DANCE-SONGS OR REELS 



127 



I sit upon a hornet's nest, 
I dance upon my head; 
I tie a wiper round my neck 
An' den I go to bed. 

I kneel to de buzzard, 
An' I bow to de crow, 
An' ebery time I weel about, 
I jump jis' so. 1 

Lydia Gumbel, of Straight College, New Orleans, sends a frag- 
ment which is said to be translated from the Creole, though I think 
that is probably a mistake, since it appears to be a part of this 
familiar old song. 

"Whar you gwine, Buzzard? 
Whar you gwine, Crow?" 
"I'se gwine down to New Ground 

To jump Jim Crow. 

Every time I turn around 

I jump Jim Crow." 

W. R. Boyd, Jr., gives this variant: 

JUMP JIM CROW 



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ev - ery time you turn a - bout, You jump Jim Crow. 

Turn about and twist about, 

And do jis' so. 
An' every time you turn about, 

You jump Jim Crow. 

Miss Fitzgerald sent another song, given her by an old lady who 
heard the Negro boys sing these as banjo tunes before the war. 



Miss Dinah 

I wish I was an apple 

Miss Dinah was another. 

An' 01 what a happy pair we'd make 

On the tree together. 

1 This seems an authentic folk-song stanza. 



128 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

An' oh ! how jealous those darkies 'd be 
When by my side they spied her. 
An' oh ! what a happy pair we 'd be, 
All squished up into cider. 

Chorus 
Oh ! I love Miss Dinah so, 
Oh ! I love Miss Dinah so. 
She was so gay as Christmas day; 
Yar, har ! I love her so ! 

One day, one day by de margin of de xibber 

De wind blewed kinder fresh; 

An' it made Miss Dinah shibber; 

She shibbered so hard I thought she'd fall 

So in my arms I caught her; 

But when de wind blewed up again, 

It blewed us in de water. 

Chorus 



De people dey said dey thought us both was drownded, 
Miss Dinah she was raked ashore, 
But I was never founded. 

Chorus 

These old dance-songs have a lively invitation which is still strong 
after all these years; for when one hears them, the feet instinctively 
pat in time and the body sways in rhythm with the lines. There is a 
gay abandon, an elemental joy about them. They are crude, yes, 
but who will say they are as cheap and vulgar as many of the songs 
people dance to to-day? They have their rough, primitive charm in 
music and in words, and they are in themselves worthy of our 
interest, apart from their historic association. They show us the 
lighter, happier side of slavery, and re-create for us the rustic merry- 
making of the slaves on many old plantations of the South. They 
deserve a volume to themselves. 



V 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 

A NEGRO musician of Nashville, Tennessee (H. B. P. Johnson), 
said to me not long ago, " There are two aspects of Negro folk- 
music which I have never seen touched on, and which deserve to be 
discussed. . . . One is the children's game-songs. I wish you would 
write about them in your book." But the difficulty of getting hold 
of such material is greater than in the case of various other types of 
song, and but little effort has been made to collect it. Matthew 
Work, professor in Fisk University, who has done much to preserve 
the old spirituals and to restore them to the place of dignity they 
deserve, said to me recently: u Iam planning a pageant which shall 
represent something of the history of our race. I need some chil- 
dren's game-songs, but I am having trouble finding them." 

Perhaps the reason for this difficulty lies in the shyness of children, 
their reticence about what concerns them as a class. Children, I 
find, will more readily give you their confidence as to their own per- 
sonal affairs, than with regard to the close fraternity of childhood. 
They will speak as themselves more easily than as children. There is a 
secret fellowship among children from which adults are shut out 
— save in rare instances where grown-ups still have the childlike 
heart, the warm, spontaneous sympathy. The " little folk" among 
mortals are as jealous of their secrets as the fairy tribe themselves, 
and you must either win them or else surprise them, if you are to 
learn anything of their hidden ways. No doubt many parents and 
teachers would be astonished to discover with what tolerance and 
humorous patronage the youngsters regard them; with what care 
they conceal their real thoughts and customs, as they hide their 
faces under puckish masks at Halloween. 

By the time you are grown up and can consider the folk-ways of 
your childhood with detached impersonality, you have forgotten 
what was of most value. Rarely will a child tell frankly of his lore, 
and rarely can an adult remember. The years are flaming swords to 
bar us from the lost paradise of childhood. There is no magic carpet 
that can transport us at will to enchanted scenes we remember 
dimly, no time machine to whisk us back to any date we choose. 



130 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Once having left that age of gold, — with what shortsighted joy in 
growing-up ! — we can look on childhood only from the leaden years 
of maturity, can know only vicariously its mystical delights through 
the experience of other children. 

Perhaps another reason for the difficulty in capturing these same 
songs now — apart from the self-conscious secrecy of childhood in 
general, and the racial reticence of Negroes — is the fact that game- 
songs are not sung as much by any children now as formerly; for 
children, like their elders, at present incline to take their music from 
phonograph records and the radio, and are slipping away from the 
great body of unwritten folk-song. They crave the novel, and they 
are losing their birth-right of racial song. Nothing in juvenile en- 
tertainment can quite take the place of the old ring-games, with their 
nonsensical tunes. A child who has never sung hilariously while he 
danced or skipped through some old, fantastic game has been cheated 
of some inalienable right, and should seek redress from society. 

One day, a year or so ago, while I was enjoying a solitary horse- 
back ride in a country district near Richmond, Virginia, I came into 
what is called Zion Town, a Negro settlement. A little group of 
children were circling about in a ring, holding hands. Inside the 
ring a plump pickaninny was squatting on the ground, while a 
slightly larger girl poked him vigorously with a stick. The ring 
skipped about, chanting merrily, and I reined my horse in and sat 
there to watch and listen. 

Frog in the middle 

And can't get out. 
Take a stick 

And punch him out. 

As the stanza ended, " Froggy," impelled by a prodigious prod, 
hopped lurchily out of the ring and someone else took his place. 
Memory flashed back scenes of my own early years when I had 
played that game myself. If I had not been afraid of breaking in on 
the fun, I should have got down off my horse and begged for the 
chance to be " Frog " once more. But I knew I should be regarded as 
an alien, and so I chirruped to Rob Roy and rode on. 

Negro children on the plantations before the war had many of 
their own ring-games and songs, some of which have come down to 
us. Those youngsters, untroubled by school and too small to work, 
had command of their own time and enjoyed a free childhood that 
juveniles now might well envy. 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 



131 



Mrs. Harvey Carroll, of Austin, Texas, told me of game-songs 
that her mother, Mrs. Crawford, heard the children on planta- 
tions in Louisiana sing in the early days. One that she recalled was 
Ransum Scansum. 



RANSUM SCANSUM 



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Ran-sum scansum, through yonder. Bring me a gourd to drink wa - ter. 



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Dis way out and t'other way in, In my la - dy's cham - ber. 

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Dis way out and t'other way in, In my la -dy's cham -ber. 

Ransum scansum, through yonder. 

Bring me a gourd to drink water. 
Dis way out and t'other way in, 

In my lady's chamber. 
Dis way out and t'other way in, 

In my lady's chamber. 

The children formed a ring, hands linked and arms held high. One 
child stood in the middle of the ring, which was "my lady's 
chamber/' and as the song went on, would dodge in and out of the 
ring, under the uplifted arms. The tempo of the tune is spirited, and 
it is hard to put the syncopation accurately on paper. 

Another version of this, which Mrs. Carroll gave as her mother 
recalled it, is a little different. 

Aransom Shansom through yander, 

Bring me a go'd to drink water. 
Dis door 's locked and t'other one 's propped, 

In dat Lady's garden. 
Dis door's locked wid a double lock, 

In dat Lady's garden. 
Oh, Lawdy mercy, let me get out of here, 

In dat Lady's garden ! 

A Negro girl was in the centre of the ring, and at the conclusion of 
the song the players sang to a different tune: 



132 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

That's a mighty purty motion, 

Susie gal! 
That 's a mighty purty motion, 

Susie gal! 
In dat Lady's garden! 

A writer under the pen name of Virginia Stait sends me a couple 
of game-songs from Virginia, which friends had given her with the 
assurance that they dated back to ante-bellum days. 

Lipto 

Lipto, lipto, jine de ring, 
Lipto, lipto, dance an' sing; 
Dance an' sing, an' laugh an' play, 
Fur dis is now a holiday. 
Turn aroun' an' roun' an' roun', 
Clap yo' han's, an' make 'em soun' ; 
Bow yo' heads, an' bow 'em low, 
All jine han's, an' heah we go. 

Lipto, lipto — fi-yi-yi, 

Lipto, lipto, heah am I, 

Er holdin' uv dis golden crown, 

An' I choose my gal fur ter dance me down. 

Lipto, lipto, jine de ring, 
Lipto, lipto, dance an' sing; 
Dance an' sing, an' laugh an' play, 
Fur dis is now a holiday. 
Turn aroun' an' roun' an roun', 
Clap yo' han's, an' make 'em soun'; 
Bow yo' heads, an' bow 'em low; 
All jine han's, an' heah we go. 

Lipto, lipto — fi-yi-yi, 

Lipto, lipto, heah am I, 

Er holdin' uv dis golden crown, 

An' I choose my man fur ter dance me down. 

Louise Clarke Pyrnelle, in her book, "Diddy, Dumps and Tot/' 
which describes child life on a plantation before the war, gives this 
as an authentic ante-bellum song. The game which it accompanied 
dramatized the various actions spoken of in the lines. The "gal" 
chosen must dance with the youth till one or the other " broke 
down," after which the girl chose a man by the same music. 

Another song sent by the same contributor is typically negro. It 
also appears in much the same form in " Diddy, Dumps and Tot." 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 133 



Monkey Motions 

I ac' monkey motions, too-re-loo, 
I ac' monkey motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de monkeys ac'. 

I ac' gen'man motions, too-re-loo, 
I ac' gen'man motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de gen'mans ac'. 

I ac' lady motions, too-re-loo, 
I ac' lady motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de ladies ac'. 

I ac' chillun motions too-re-loo, 
I ac' chillun motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de chillun ac'. 

I ac' preacher motions, too-re-loo, 
I ac' preacher motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de preachers ac'. 

I ac' nigger motions, too-re-loo, 
I ac' nigger motions, so I do; 
I ac' 'em well an' dat's a fac' — 
I ac' jes' like de niggers ac'. 

Mrs. Clarke Pyrnelle says that the leader would give dramatic 
illustration of the " motions" sung of, improvising according to his 
own whim, and seeking to entertain the crowd. 

John Trotwood Moore, Librarian of the State Library of Ten- 
nessee, and author of many stories, poems, and novels depicting the 
Negro of former days as well as the present, gave a song which he 
said was used by the young Negroes in Alabama years ago. Mr. 
Moore said that it was his observation that the black Negroes, of 
pure African blood, were the ones who sang the folk-songs. The 
yellow ones, mulattoes or quadroons, cared less for folk-lore or song. 

Dog in the wood, 
Barking at the squirrel; 
My true love 
Is as good as the worl'. 



134 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Chorus 

Mr. Banks, he loves sugar and tea, 
Mr. Banks, he loves candy. 
Mr. Banks he can whirl around 
And kiss the girls so handy. 

Dog in the wood, 

Barking at the squirrel; 

Roses are red and violet blue, 

Sugar is sweet and so are you. Chorus 

We 're walking, 

We're walking down our true love's lane; 

Oh, chillum, let us be happy, 

For we may not hunt again. Chorus 

This was sung with a kissing-game. The name would be changed for 
each boy, who would pick another girl. A line was formed on each 
side, making an aisle, in which the singer acted the motions of the 
dog and the squirrel in the wood. 

Mr. John Stone, of Mountfair, Virginia, president of the Virginia 
Folk-lore Society, sends me a couple of game-songs. "Several years 
ago while hunting ballads I found two singing-games of darky origin 
that may be of use to you. 

"In one game two people skip around a tree and sing: 

"Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum, eidle-dum, 
Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum-dum, 
Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum, eidle-dum, 
Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum-dee ! " 



HOP, OLD SQUIRREL 



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Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum, eidle-dum, Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum-dum, 



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Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum, eidle-dum, Hop, old squirrel, eidle-dum -dee! 

"The second tries to catch the first. The song was given to me by a 
white lady, a descendant of William Byrd II. She had seen the 
darky play it. Afterwards I persuaded an old colored woman to 
show me how it was played. Words are improvised for it. She sang 
various things, such as : 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 135 

" Catch the old squirrel, eidle-dum — eidle-dum, 
Catch the old squirrel, eidle-dum-dum-dum, 
Catch the old squirrel, eidle-dum — eidle-dum, 
Catch the old squirrel, eidle-dum-dee ! 

"I'll give you fifty cents, eidle-dum — eidle-dum, 
I'll give you fifty cents, eidle-dum-dum-dum, 
I'll give you fifty cents, eidle-dum — eidle-dum, 
I'll give you fifty cents, eidle-dum-dee! " 

Another squirrel game-song in use among the Negroes, and con- 
sidered by its collector to be of undoubted African origin, perhaps 
brought over from the Congo, is given in an article, " Carols and 
Child-lore at the Capitol," by W. H. Babcock in LippincoWs Maga- 
zine, September, 1886. Whether of jungle or plantation origin, it is 
such as would appeal to the Negro, who so loves the out-of-doors 
and gives to animals his own intense feelings. Mr. Babcock says that 
two players stand face to face, to represent trees, while a third, tak- 
ing the part of a squirrel, peeps round the trunk of one tree, at an- 
other squirrel not visible, but apparently off-stage. The chorus goes 
"pat and sing": 

Peep, Squirrel, peep, 
Peep at your brother. 

Why should n't one fool 
Peep at another? 

The fox, in the person of another player, comes up, at which the song 
changes to a warning: 

Jump, Squirrel, jump! 

Jump, Squirrel, jump! 
Jump, or the fox will catch you; 

Jump, jump, jump! 

When the squirrel sees the fox, he leaps round the tree and trots to- 
ward the other squirrel off-stage. As the fox follows him, the song 
becomes : 

Trot, Squirrel, trot! 

Trot, Squirrel, trot! 
Trot, or the fox will catch you; 
Trot, trot, trot! 

The squirrel trots faster, the excitement of beating time^and singing 
increases, and the chorus becomes more animated : 



136 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Run, Squirrel, run! 

Run, Squirrel, run! 
Run, or the fox will catch you; 

Run, run, run! 

The game finally turns into a whirl of dodging and leaping and 
furious pursuit. The squirrel cannot go far, as he must not leave his 
tree for any distance, and so he is inevitably caught. 

In another article, "Games of Washington Children," in the 
American Anthropologist for July, 1888, the same author describes a 
game, and gives a song which is evidently a version of one sent me by 
Ella Oatman, of Houston, Texas. Mr. Babcock's song is called Old 
Humpsy and Miss Oatman's is Old Ponto. 1 

This also is a ring-game. Three players are discovered inside the 
ring, one standing up straight to represent a tree, one — Old 
Humpsy, or Old Ponto — crouched beside the tree, and the third 
representing an old woman. As the song proceeds, the players dra- 
matize the actions sung of, and when the end comes, each of the three 
selects in succession and the game and song begin all over again. 

OLD PONTO IS DEAD 



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dead and laid in his grave. Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! . . 

Old Ponto is dead and laid in his grave, 
Laid in his grave, laid in his grave. 
Old Ponto is dead and laid in his grave. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 



1 Professor Kittredge writes me: "Your Old Ponto is Dead is an English song — 
still popular as a game-song. The person who is dead (in English and American 
versions) is Oliver Cromwell, Old Crompy, Old Crony, Old Pompey, Old Grundy, Old 
Grumley, Father Adam, Granddaddy, Sir Roger, Little Johnny Wattles, etc. See 
my note in the Journal of American Folk-lore, xxxv, 407." 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 137 

There grew a large apple tree over his grave, 
Over his grave, over his grave. 
There grew a large apple tree over his grave. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

The apples got ripe, beginning to fall, 
Beginning to fall, beginning to fall. 
The apples got ripe, beginning to fall. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

There came an old woman a-picking them up, 
A-picking them up, a-picking them up. 
There came an old woman a-picking them up. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

Old Ponto jumped up and gave her a thump, 
And gave her a thump, and gave her a thump. 
Old Ponto jumped up and gave her a thump. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

It made the old woman go hippity-hop, 
Hippity-hop, hippity-hop. 
It made the old woman go hippity-hop. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

Miss Oatman says, "As children we added the bridle-and-saddle 
verse. I do not know whether it belongs or not." 

The bridle and saddle are on the shelf, 
On the shelf, on the shelf. 
The bridle and saddle are on the shelf. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

If you want any more you can sing it yourself, 
Sing it yourself, sing it yourself. 
If you want any more you can sing it yourself. 
Whoo! whoo! whoo! 

I have seen Negro children in Texas sing with glee some of the 
games which the white children also sang, as Farmer in the Dell, 
and so forth. I have seen them act out the following simple play. 
One child would stand alone before his fellows and chant: 

Here I stand 

All ragged and dirty. 
If you don't come kiss me 

I'll run like a turkey. 



138 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I never saw the actual kiss given, as children in my region in my day 
did not play kissing-games. But some child of the opposite sex 
would come forward and tap the singer on the shoulder, after which 
he would take his place and sing. 

Newell, in his " Games and Songs," gives an old kissing-game re- 
ported to be played by Negro children at Galveston, Texas, years 
ago, which is apparently a remote version of the Sleeping Beauty 
tale. 

A girl pretends to be asleep, while a ring of children circle round 
her, singing: 

Here we go round the strawberry bush, 
This cold and frosty morning. 

Here 's a young lady sat down to sleep, 
This cold and frosty morning. 

She wants a young gentleman to wake her up, 
This cold and frosty morning. 

Mr. his name is called, 

This cold and frosty morning. 

Arise, arise, upon your feet, 

This cold and frosty morning. 

After the kiss has been given, the sleeper wakes, and the game con- 
tinues with some one else as central figure. This is a survival of an 
old English round. 

I have seen Negro children in Texas play the old game, which we 
white youngsters also played, called " Chickamy, Chickamy, Crany 
Crow." This is a thrillful game, with a witch in it, and wild chasings 
and captures. A witch sits at one side, while a leader representing a 
mother hen enters, with a string of chickens behind her, each clinging 
to the garments of the chicken in front of him. The line circles fear- 
fully about the witch, chanting: 

Chickamy, chickamy, crany crow, 

I went to the well to wash my toe. 

When I came back one of my black-eyed chickens was gone. 

The leader pauses near the witch and asks, "What time is it, old 
witch? " If the witch answers with any numeral less than twelve, the 
mother and chickens are safe for the moment, and circle around 
again, chanting, and again ask the hour. But if the old witch replies, 
"Twelve o'clock!" then she springs at them and they flee shrieking 
in terror. If the witch captures a chick, — as she surely does, — the 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 



139 



prisoner is put into a pen and the game begins with those that are 
left free. 

Many — if not most — of these songs and games are of old Eng- 
lish origin and have courtly traditions behind them, as their phrasing 
suggests. "My lady " of the old songs is changed in the Negro child's 
version to "some lady" or "dem ladies." 

John Stone, of Virginia, sends this game-song, which was given him 
as used by Negroes. "The darkies would form a ring, as in 'drop- 
ping handkerchief,' but with hands behind them. One with a key 
would walk around the ring and place the key in some one's hands. 
Led by the walker, all would sing: 



THE CLOSET KEY 



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I done lost de clos - et key In dem la - dies' gar - den; 



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I done lost de clos - et key In dem la - dies' gar - den. 

I done lost de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden; 
I done lost de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden. 

The walker, leading all, would then sing: 

Help me to find de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden; 
Help me to find de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden. 

All would then sing, led by the one having the key: 

I done found de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden; 
I done found de closet key 
In dem ladies' garden. 

The one having the key would then hide it again and sing as before." 
This is something like an old song given me years ago by Dorothy 
Renick, of Waco, Texas, who had learned it from Negroes. 



140 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



In Some Lady's Garden 

Oh, somebody come and let me out of here. 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 
I '11 roll like a log if you let me out of here. 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 

Oh, somebody come and let me out of here, 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 
I '11 pant like a lizard if you let me out of here. 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 

Oh, somebody come and let me out of here. 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 
I '11 run like a rabbit if you let me out of here. 

I 'se in some lady's garden. 

Oh, somebody come and let me out of here. 

I'se in some lady's garden. 
I '11 kick like a donkey if you let me out of here. 

I'se in some lady's garden. 

There are endless variants for this, the actions of all imaginable 
natural-history specimens being offered as reward for release from 
the garden. 

A song given by William Wells Newell in his " Games and Songs of 
American Children" (published by Harper and Brothers in 1884), as 
sung by Negro children, is evidently akin to these. 



DO, DO, PITY MY CASE 



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clothes to wash when I get home, In some la - dy's gar - den. 

Do, do, pity my case, 

In some lady's garden. 
My clothes to wash when I get home, 

In some lady's garden. 

Do, do, pity my case, 

In some lady's garden. 
My clothes to iron when I get home, 

In some lady's garden. 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 141 

Do, do, pity my case, 

In some lady's garden. 
My floors to scrub when I get home, 

In some lady's garden. 

And so on — the singers and players bewailing the tasks they must 
perform, of baking bread, and so forth. 

Mr. Newell says: "Our informant remembers the game as danced 
by Negro children, their scanty garments flying as the ring spun 
about the trunk of some large tree — but this is evidently no Negro 
song." 

A game-song used by Negro children in Louisiana was sent me by 
Mrs. Cammilla Breazeale, of Natchitoches. The actions sung of are 
represented by gesture as far as possible. 

Little Girl 

"Little girl, little girl," — 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you go over the river?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you see my hen?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did she lay an egg?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you take it to yer mamma?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did she make it inter corn pone?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Wid jest dat egg? " 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did she give you some?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Oh, how 'd you like it?" 

"Oh, very well." 

"Little girl, little girl," — 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you go over the river?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you see my cow?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you milk her down?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did you put it in a bucket?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 



1 42 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

"Did you take it to yer mamma?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Did she give you some?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 
"Oh, how'dyoulikeit?" 

"Oh, very well." 

This is sung antiphonally, the leader shouting one line and the 
crowd another. It is said that the rhythm of this is strong, and the 
children stamp their feet with vigor as they sing the nonsensical 
lines. 

Dr. Charles Carroll, of New Orleans, told me of a queer song-game 
played by Negroes in which the players tied themselves in a knot. 
Unfortunately, he could remember but vaguely either the progress of 
the game or the song that accompanied it. 

In an article, "Ring-Games from Georgia, " in the Journal of 
American Folk-lore, volume xxx, Loraine Darby gives various songs 
which she says are peculiar to the colored children of that region, 
southern Georgia. 

"One of the prettiest is The May Pole Song. One girl skips about 
the inside of the ring, and at the singing of the fourth line bows to 
the one she chooses. Then both 'jump for joy/ a peculiar step rather 
like a clog, which outsiders find difficult to learn. Then the song is 
repeated, the second girl choosing, and so on." 

All around the May pole, 

The May pole, the May pole; 
All around the May pole, 

Now, Miss SalHe, won't you bow? 
Now, Miss Sallie, won't you jump for joy, 

Jump for joy, jump for joy? 
Now, Miss Sallie, won't you jump for joy, 

Now, Miss Sallie, won't you bow? 

Miss Darby says, "Perhaps the most charming of all is: 

This Lady She Wears a Dark-Green Shawl 

This lady she wears a dark-green shawl, 
A dark-green shawl, a dark-green shawl. 

This lady she wears a dark-green shawl, 
I love her to my heart! 

Now choose for your lover, honey, my love, 

Honey, my love! Honey, my love! 
Now choose for your lover, honey, my love, 

I love her to my heart! 



CHILDREN'S GAME-SONGS 



143 



THIS LADY SHE WEARS A DARK-GREEN SHAWL 



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dark - green shawl, I love her 



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my heart! 



Now dance with your lover, honey, my love, 

Honey, my love! Honey, my love! 
Throw your arms round your lover, honey, my love, 

I love her to my heart! 

Farewell to your lover, honey, my love, 

Honey, my love! Honey, my love! 
Farewell to your lover, honey, my love, 

I love her to my heart!" 

There are many more of these games and songs which have never 
been set down in print and which are like to perish if they are not 
captured soon. Children to-day are singing them but little in com- 
parison with those of the past, and since these old songs depend on 
oral transmission for their passing from one generation to another, it 
is easy to see how slight their hold is becoming. Children grow up so 
quickly now — and how can they remember what they do not know? 
Yet what a tragedy it is to let these precious folk-memories fade 
away, and to lose traditions and songs that have given pleasure for 
centuries ! Parents and teachers and social workers could do a ser- 
vice of real value here, if they would set down these quaint and 
lively old game-songs as they learn them from children or find them 
in the recollections of older people. When they are once lost, how 
shall they be recaptured? 



VI 
LULLABIES 

NO figure of the old South was more vivid or more beloved than 
the " black mammy/' with her white apron and her gay ban- 
dana, or tignon, on her head, tending her small charges. She has 
come down to us of a later generation in story and song, as well as in 
the fond recollections of those who knew her care. " Mammy" held 
an honored place in the home, for the white children were taught to 
respect and obey her; and when they grew up, they loved her as a 
second mother. An amusing instance of this is related by Mrs. Anna 
Hordeman Meade, in her volume of plantation recollections, "When 
I Was a Little Girl." Mammy was an autocrat whose boast was, 
"I got Injun blood in dese yer veins!" and who scorned the overseer 
as "po' white folks." Once, when the master and mistress were away 
from home and a grown son came home to take charge of affairs, the 
overseer complained to him: 

" 'Doctor, this old woman's insolence is becoming unbearable and 
I want to ask your advice about punishing her.' 

"'What old woman?' asked our uncle. 

"'The one they call Mammy, Sir. She ought to be sent to the 
fields, Sir.' 

" ' What — what ! ' said Uncle Stewart in amazed and amused con- 
sternation. 'Why, I would as soon think of punishing my own 
mother ! Why, man, you 'd have four of the biggest men in Missis- 
sippi down on you if you even dare suggest such a thing, and she 
knows it! All you can do is to knuckle down to Mammy.'" 

The peculiar conditions of slavery made the Negro nurse lavish 
more affection — or at least more demonstration of affection — on 
her white charges than on her own children. Negro children on many 
plantations received a sort of communal care. I saw on a plantation 
in Louisiana a house that in slavery times was used as a day nursery, 
where the mothers left their children in care of one or two old women, 
while they worked in the fields. They would come in at intervals to 
nurse the babies and then go back to the cotton-row or the rice- or 
cane-fields. In many cases mother love was thwarted and driven 
back upon itself under an institution which separated parent and 






LULLABIES 



H5 



child, when one or the other might be sold; so the black mother often 
spent her tenderest love on the white child she nursed, and some of 
the most characteristic of the Negro folk-songs are the lullabies by 
which she crooned her baby — white or black — to sleep. 

There is one lullaby which is widely known through the South and 
which is reported in many varying forms, but with the spirit and the 
tune practically the same. 

One version is given by my sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, who 
learned it from Negroes in Grimes County, Texas, in her childhood, 
and later sang her babies to sleep by it. 



LULLABY 



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Hush - a - by, Don't you cry, Go to sleep, lit - tie ba - by. And 



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when you wake, You shall have a cake, And all the pretty lit - tie pon-ies. 



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Paint and bay, Sor-rel and gray, All the pret-ty lit -tie pon - ies. So 



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hush - a - by, Don't you cry, Go to sleep, lit -tie ba - by. 

Hushaby, 

Don't you cry, 

Go to sleep, little baby. 

And when you wake, 

You shall have a cake, 

And all the pretty little ponies. 

Paint and bay, 

Sorrel and gray, 

All the pretty little ponies. 

So hushaby, 

Don't you cry, 

Go to sleep, little baby. 

Dorothy Renick, of Waco, Texas, gave me a variant several years 
ago, as learned from Negro mammies. 



146 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Hushaby, 

And don't you cry, 

My sweet, pretty little baby. 

When you wake, you shall have cake, 

And oh, the pretty little horses. 

Four little ponies you shall have, 
All the pretty little ponies, 
White and gray, black and bay, 
Oh, the pretty little horses. 

I had another version from Louree Peoples, of Texas, through the 
courtesy of Professor A. J. Armstrong, of Baylor University. 

Go to Sleepy, Little Baby 

Go to sleepy, little baby, 

Go to sleepy, little baby. 

Mammy and daddy have both gone away 

And left nobody for to mind you. 

So rockaby, 

And don't you cry. 

And go to sleepy, little baby. 

And when you wake 

You can ride 

All the pretty little ponies. 

Paint and bay, 

Sorrel and a gray, 

And all the pretty little ponies. 

So go to sleepy, little baby. 

Rockaby 

And don't you cry 

And go to sleep, my baby. 

A version was given by Mrs. Tom Bartlett, of Marlin, who writes: 
"I wonder if you have thought of that old lullaby which every Negro 
mammy sings? Here it is as I remember it." 

Go to Sleep, Little Baby 

Go to sleep, little baby, 
Go to sleep, little baby! 

When you wake, 

You shall have 

All the pretty little ponies. 






LULLABIES 1 47 

All the ponies in the lot 
Belong to Mammy's little baby! 
Black and bay, 
White and gray, 
All belong to Mammy's baby. 

Go to sleep, little baby, 
Go to sleep, little baby! 
When you wake, 
You shall have a little cake, 
And all the pretty little ponies ! 
Hushaby, and don't you cry, 
Go to sleep, little baby! 
Black and bay, 
White and gray, 
All belong to Mammy's baby! 

Mrs. Miller, of Louisiana, gave me a version which she had heard 
sung in her childhood by the Negroes on a Mississippi plantation. 

Go to sleep, little baby. 
Daddy run away, 
An' lef nobody with the baby! 

Daddy an' Mammy went down town 
To see their pretty little horses. 
All the horses in that stable 
Belong to this little baby! 

Mrs. Cammilla Breazeale sends a version given her by a Negro 
woman, who said that it was a "baby " song. This is an interesting 
combination of the lullaby given above and another more gruesome 
one, which is yet sung in various places. 

Go to sleep, little baby, 
When you wake 
You shall have 
All the mulies in the stable. 
Buzzards and flies 
Picking out its eyes, 
Pore little baby crying, 
Mamma, mamma! 

Mrs. D. M. Diggs, formerly of Lynchburg, Virginia, gave the fol- 
lowing song, which is an old lullaby, one that Negro mammies sang 
to the children, and which has come down for generations in Vir- 
ginia. 



148 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



OLE COW 

Slowly and with marked rhythm A 



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: 01e cow, ole 



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cow, where is 

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pick - in* out its eyes. De po' li'l thing cried, Mam - my! " 

"Ole cow, ole cow, 
Where is your calf?" 
" 'Way down yonder in de meadow. 
De buzzards an' de flies 
A-pickin' out its eyes. 
De po' li'l thing cried, Mammy /" 

Mrs. Charles Carroll, of New Orleans, gave me a variant of this, 
which from the rhyme would appear to be the original version. 

'Way down yonder 

In de meadow 

There 's a po' little lambie. 

The bees and the butterflies 

Peckin' out its eyes. 

Po' li'l thing cried, Mammy! 

This she heard her grandmother sing, as she learned it from the 
Negroes on her Louisiana plantation. 

A variant of this was sung by Tom, the colored butler at Curls 
Neck Farm, Virginia. Jeannette Freeman, who later gave me the 
words and air, says that this is also sung in South Carolina in the same 
form, as reported to her by various college girls from that state. 

Baa-Baa, Black Sheep 

" Baa-baa, black sheep, 
Where you lef yo' mammy? " 
" 'Way down yonder in de co'nfiel'. 
Gnats and flies 
A-pickin' out its eyes — 
And de po' li'l sheep a-holler, Mammy! " 



LULLABIES 



149 



BAA-BAA, BLACK SHEEP 



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Baa - baa, black sheep, Where you lef ' yo' mam - my? 



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'Way down yon-der in de co'n - fid*. Gnats and flies : 

Spoken 




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pick-in* out its eyes — And de po' li'l sheep a - hoi - ler, Mam-myl 



Another painful lullaby of a somewhat similar nature was given 
me by Mrs. Charles Carroll, who had learned it on her father's 
plantation in North Louisiana. 

Three old black crows sat on a tree, 

And all were black as black can be, 
Pappa's old horse took sick and died, 

And the old black crows picked out its eyes. 

These latter lullabies present rather melancholy and depressing 
pictures, and, it might be thought, would produce bad dreams on the 
part of infantile sleepers. Surely they are not of a type that mod- 
ern white mothers would choose to croon babies to sleep by, but 
Negro mammies knew not of dream-complexes and would have 
called Freud's ideas "torn-foolishness." 

Another favorite hushaby song, which many Negro mammies con- 
fess to knowing, and which numerous white acquaintances remember 
dropping off to sleep by, is Short^nin' Bread. This has a lively tune 
which might easily have entertained an infant enough to keep him 
wide awake. Of the following version the first stanza and the chorus, 
as well as the air, were given by Jean Feild, of Richmond, Virginia, 
and the other stanzas by Professor Wirt Williams, of Mississippi. 



Short'nin' Bread 

Put on de skillet, 
Put on de led; 
Mammy's gwine to make 
A li'l short'nin' bread. 
Dat ain't all 



15° 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



tt ti ;4 P P 



Dat she 's gwine to do — 
She 's gwine to make 
A li'l coffee, too. 

Chorus 

Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin', short'nin', 
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin' bread. 
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin', short'nin', 
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin' bread. 

SHORT'NIN' BREAD 
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Put on de skil - let, . . Put on de led; Mammy 's gwine to 



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make a li'l short' -nin' bread. Dat ain't all dat she 's gwine to do — 

Chorus 



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She's gwine to make a li'l cof - fee too. Mammy's li'l ha -by loves 



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short'- nin', short'-nin', — Mammy's li'l ba - by loves short'- nin' bread. 

Three li'l Niggers 
Lyin' in bed. 
Two wuz sick 
An' t'ther 'most dead. 
Sont fo' de doctor, 
An' de doctor said, 
"Give dem Niggers 
Some short'nin' bread!" 



Chorus 



I slipped in de kitchen, 
An' slipped up de led, 
An' I slipped my pockets 
Full ob short'nin' bread. 
I stole de skillet, 
I stole de led, 
I stole de gal 
To make short'nin' bread. 



Chorus 



LULLABIES 



151 



Dey caught me wid de skillet, 
Dey caught me wid de led, 
An' dey caught me wid de gal 
Cookin' short'nin' bread. 
Paid six dollars for de skillet, 
Six dollars for de led, 
Stayed six months in jail, 
Eatin' short'nin' bread. 

Chorus 

Mrs. D. M. Diggs sends another slightly different stanza from 
Lynchburg, Virginia. She says it is a very old song that she learned 
from black mammies, who had sung many little ones to sleep by it. 



SHORT'NIN' BREAD 

Brightly and with emphasis 



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Run here, Mam - my, run here quick! Short' -nin' bread done 



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made me sick! Mam -my get - a 



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nin', short' - nin', 



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short' -nin', Mam -my get - a short' 



nin', short' - nin' bread. 



Run here, Mammy, run here quick! 

Short'nin' bread done made me sick! 

Mammy get-a short'nin', short'nin', short'nin', 
Mammy get-a short'nin', short'nin' bread. 

It might be explained for the benefit of those who have never 
lived in the South that "short'nin' bread," or "cracklin' bread," as it 
is as often called, is considered a great delicacy among colored people. 
It is a kind of bread made very rich by having bacon gravy and bits 
of crisp bacon mixed in it. "Cracklin' bread" was made on the 
plantation at "hog-killing time," we are told. It is still heard of, 
though not so popular now as in earlier times. Professor and Mrs. 
W. H. Thomas — of the Agricultural and Mechanical College, of 
Texas — have heard little plantation darkies of the present day 
sing: 



152 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Ain't I glad 

The old sow's dead: 
Mammy's gwine to make 

A little short'nin' bread. 

"Cracklin' bread" is delicious even to a more aristocratic palate, 
though it is so rich that one cannot eat much of it at a time. 

Dorothy and Virginia Carroll, of New Orleans, contribute an addi- 
tional stanza concerning the small darkies and this favored delicacy. 

Two little Niggers lyin' in bed, 
One turned over and the other one said: 
"Mah baby loves short'nin' bread, 
Mah baby loves candy." 

The following lines given by the Carroll children are obviously akin 
to the other, though perhaps not a part of Short 'nin > Bread. 

I know somep'n I ain't going to tell; 
Three little Niggers in a peanut shell, 
One can read and one can write 
And one can smoke his father's pipe. 

Mr. More, of Charlotte, North Carolina, gave Miss Gulledge a 
slightly different version of the "short'nin' bread" song. 



PUT ON THE SKILLET 




Put on de skil-let,Nev-er mind de led, Granny gwine to cook a lit -tie 
Chorus ^ ^ 



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short'-ing bread. My ba - by loves short'ing, My ba - by loves short'ing bread. 

Put on de skillet, 

Never mind de led, 

Granny gwine to cook a little short'ing bread. 

Chorus 
My baby loves short'ing, 
My baby loves short'ing bread. 

Two little Niggers 
Lyin' in bed, 

Heels cracked open lack short'ing bread. 

Chorus 



LULLABIES 153 

Who's been a-courtin', 
Who 's been a- trying 
Who 's been a-courtin' dat gal o' mine? 

Chorus 

There are certain lullabies that are distinctly expressive of the 
colored mother's love for her own child, and made to be sung to 
pickaninnies, not white babies. One such was sent me by Howard 
Snyder from his Mississippi plantation, the place which has ap- 
peared distinctively in his "Plantation Pictures" in various maga- 
zines. This is a combination of the old counting nonsense jingle, 
"Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Mo," and an overflowing of mother love. 

Leddle bit-a Niggeh an' a great big toe, 

Meenie miny mo. 
Leddle bit-a Niggeh wid a great big fis', 

Jes' de size fo' his mammy to kiss. 
Leddle bit-a Niggeh wid big black eyes, 

Bright as de sun up in de skies. 
Leddle bit-a Niggeh wid big black eyes, 

Meenie minie mo. 

Two fragments marked "Baby Songs" were given by a colored 
woman in Natchitoches, Louisiana, to Mrs. Cammilla Breazeale, 
who sent them to me. One can see the nodding, kinky head falling 
over on the mother's breast as "Mammy" croons these words: 

Toolie low, toolie low, loolie low, 

I am Mammy's little black baby child. 

Toodie noodie, mammy's baby, 
Toodie noodie, mammy's child, 
Toodie, noodie, toodie. 

One cradle-song of this character was contributed by Mrs. Richard 
Clough Thompson, of Arkansas. Mrs. Thompson has made con- 
siderable study of the Indian and Negro folk-lore of her state and 
has collected a number of songs, some of which she loaned for this 
volume. 

Cradle Song 

O Lulie, O Lulie, if you please, 
Let me fall upon my knees; 

Rock de cradle, 

Rock de cradle, 

Rock de cradle, Joe. 



154 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Joe cut off his big toe 
And hung it up to dry. 
All de gals began to laugh 
An' Joe began to cry. 

Rock de cradle, 

Rock de cradle, 

Rock de cradle, Joe. 

The first four lines of the second stanza were sung in Texas also, 
for I have heard them from my mother in my childhood. She had 
learned them from the colored children on her father's plantation. 

Betsy Camp, of Franklin, Virginia, sang the following nonsense 
stanza, as remembered from the singing of old Negroes on her 
father's place. One can imagine a sleepy child rousing up to hear a 
noise, and soothed to slumber by this droning chant: 

WHO DAT? 
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Who dat tap - pin e at de win-dow? Who dat knock-in' at de do'? 
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Mam - my tap-pin' at de win-dow, Pap - py knock-in' at de do'. 

Who dat tappin' at de window? 
Who dat knockin' at de do'? 
Mammy tappin' at de window, 
Pappy knockin' at de do'. 

Two Creole slumber-songs, as sung by the Negroes in the Creole 
patois, that quaint speech of the Louisiana Negroes under French 
influence, were given me by Creole ladies in New Orleans, Mrs. J. O. 
La Rose and Mrs. Deynoodt. 

Fais Do Do, Minette 

Fais do do, Minette, 

Chere pitit cochon du laite. 

Fais do do, mo chere pitit, 

Jusqu'a trappe l'age quinze ans. 

Quand quinze ans a pale couri, 

M'o pale marie vous avec monsieur le martine. 



LULLABIES 



155 



FAIS DO DO, MINETTE 



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Fais do do, Min - et - te, Cherepi-tit co-chon du lai 



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Fais do do, mo chere pi - tit, Jus-qu'a trap-pe l'age quin-ze ans. 



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Quand quin 



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M'o pa - le ma-ri-e vous a - vec mon-sieur le . . mar - ti 



ne. 



I neglected to get the translations of these songs from the ladies who 
gave them, but Julian E. Harris, of the French Department of 
Columbia, assisted me in putting them into English. Fais Do Do, 
Minette means: 

Go to sleep, Minette, 

Dear little baby, 

Go to sleep, my dear little baby, 

Till you are fifteen years old. 

When you have got to be fifteen years old, 

You shall have the martine for a husband. 

Minette was obviously a girl baby, but the infant addressed in the 
other Creole lullaby given by the same ladies is as unmistakably a 
boy. 

Fais Do Do, Colas 

Fais do do, Colas, mon petit frere, 

Fais do do, t 'auras du gateau. 

Papa e aura, 

Et moi j'un aurai, 

Tout un plein panier. 

Here some " little mother" is singing to her small brother, promising 
him reward if he will go to sleep. Perhaps she would like to dispose 
of him promptly, so that she could escape to her play, unhampered 
by vicarious maternal duties. 

In English this would be somewhat as follows. The Creole patois 
with its cryptic peculiarities of speech is difficult to translate — as it 



156 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

would be hard to put ordinary Negro dialect of a pronounced type 
into French, for example: 

Go to sleep, my little brother. 

Go to sleep. You shall have some cake. 

Papa will have some, 

And I will have some, 

A whole basket full. 

The promise of cake as payment for dropping off to sleep soon, in 
this lullaby, is reminiscent of that in the variants of the first given 
in this discussion. Cake evidently formed a more customary part of 
the baby's diet in older times than now — though perhaps the prom- 
ise was only a sort of poetic license, not to be taken seriously when 
the sleeper awoke. A night's slumber might be supposed to wipe out 
remembrance of what had been necessary to produce it. 

An old nursery song remembered from the singing of various black 
mammies of the South has the appearance of being an antique Eng- 
lish nonsense jingle. I heard my mother sing it in my childhood, as 
she knew it from the Negroes on her father's plantation in East 
Texas. A version was given me by Kate Langley Bosher, of Rich- 
mond, Virginia, who said that she had been sung to sleep by it in her 
babyhood, her black nurse rattling it off. 

CREE-MO-CRI-MO-DORRO-WAH 



t 



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Cree - mo - cri - mo - dor - ro - wall, Mee - high - mee - low - 




me upstart, Pompey doodle, Sing sang pol-ly witch, O- cri - me - o! 

Cree-mo-cri-mo-dorro- wah , 
Mee-high-mee-low-me upstart, 
Pompey doodle, 
Sing sang polly witch, 
O-cri-meo ! 

A slightly different version was contributed by Dorothy Renick, 
of Waco, Texas, as she had heard colored nurses sing it. 

Way down south on a cedar creek; 
Sing-song-Polly, won't you ki' me oh? 
There the Niggers grow ten feet; 
Sing-song-Polly, won't you ki' me oh? 



LULLABIES 157 

Chorus 

Kee mo, ki mo, darro war, 
Hima-homa patta patta winka, 
Singa-song nipper cat, 
Sing-song-Polly, won't you ki' me oh? 

Dey go to bed but 't ain't no use; 
Sing-song-Polly, won't you ki' me oh? 
Feet stick out for de chicken's roost, 
Sing-song-Polly, won't you ki' me oh? Chorus 

A charming little lullaby was sent me by Professor J. C. Metcalfe, 
of the University of Virginia. One of his students, Betty Jones, had 
given it to him. It has a simplicity and rustic charm that are de- 
lightful. 

Oh, the wind is in the west, 

And the guinea 's on her nest, 

And I can't get any rest 

For my baby! 

I'll tell papa when he comes home 

Somebody beat my little baby! 

A variant of this, written down for me by a Negro woman in 
Louisiana and given to Mrs. Breazeale for me, has a homely quaint- 
ness particularly characteristic of the rustic Negro mother. I have 
left the spelling just as the woman wrote it out for me. Though 
"bookerman" is n't in the dictionary, any child in the South knows 
what it means. 

Go to sleep, little baby, 

Before the bookerman catch you. 

Turkey in the nest 

Can't get a rest, 

Can't get a rest for the baby. 

Vivid imagery and dramatic dialogue are to be found in a lullaby 
sent by Mrs. Diggs from Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Great Big Dog 

Great big dog come a-runnin' down de river, 

Shook his tail an' jarred de meadow. 

Go 'way, ole dog, go 'way, ole dog, 

You shan't have my baby. 

Mother loves you, Father loves you, 

Ev'ybody loves Baby. 

Mother loves you, Father loves you, 

Ev'ybody loves Baby. 



i 5 8 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



GREAT BIG DOG 



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Great big dog come a - run-nin' down de riv - er, Shook his tail an' 



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jarred de meadow. Go 'way, ole dog, go 'way, ole dog, You shan't have my 



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ba - by. Mother loves you, Father loves you, Ev - 'y-bod-y loves 



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Ba - by. Mother loves you, Father loves you, Ev - 'y-bod-y loves Ba - by. 

One would suppose the picture enough to frighten a child out of, in- 
stead of soothing him into, sleep. But black mammies, while they 
did not know psychology as a technical study, yet were wise in the 
knowledge of child fancies, and if they conjured up the fearsome 
image of a great black dog, they were as able to banish it at will. 

A more formal lullaby was given me by Mrs. C. E. Railing, 
formerly of Virginia, who had the words from Miss Caroline New- 
comb, of Shreveport, Louisiana. Mrs. Railing has set the words to 
music of her own — which, not being folk-music, is not given here. 
But she thinks the words belong to a genuine folk-song of the 
Negroes. 

Mammy's Little Boy 

Who all de time a-hidin' 
In de cotton an' de corn? 
Mammy's little boy, 
Mammy's little boy. 
Who all de time a-blowin' 
01' Massa's dinner horn? 
Mammy's little baby boy. 

Chorus 

An' he come to his mammy, 
An' she ketch him on her arm, 

Mammy's little boy, 

Mammy's little boy. 
An' a bye-bye, 

Mammy's little baby boy! 



LULLABIES 159 

Who all de time a-stealin' 
Of de shovel an' de rake? 
Mammy's little boy, 
Mammy's little boy. 
Who all de time a-ridin' 

Of dat great big lazy drake? 

Mammy's little baby boy! Chorus 

Who all de time a-runnin' 
To de kitchen for a bite? 
Mammy's little boy, 
Mammy's little boy. 
Who mess hisself wid 'taters 
Till his clo'se is jes' a sight? 

Mammy's little baby boy. Chorus 

Who all de time a-fussin' 

When you go to wash his skin? 
Mammy's little boy, 
Mammy's little boy. 
Who fuss an' cry an' holler 

When you take him out de tub, 
Cause he want to get back in? 

Mammy's little baby boy. Chorus 

Who all de time a-fussin' 
Fo' 'lasses on his bread? 
Mammy's little boy, 
Mammy's little boy. 
Who all de time a-fallin' 
An' bump his little head? 

Mammy's little baby boy. Chorus 

An examination of these Negro lullabies as a whole shows that the 
music is simple, with the elemental simplicity that belongs to child- 
hood. There is a crooning sweetness about them, a tenderness as 
manifest in the tones as in the words, which one finds infinitely 
appealing. One discerns in them something more than ordinary 
mother-love, — as marvellous as that is, — a racial mother-heart 
which can take in not only its own babies, but those of another, 
dominant, race as well. What other nation of mothers has ever 
patiently and with a beautiful sacrifice put alien children ahead of 
its own — in outward devotion if not in actual fact? Remembrance 
of the spirit back of these lullabies gives them a more poignant 
beauty. Yet even without that, even in themselves, they are lovely 
enough to deserve the study of musicians and poets. The words are 
sometimes compounded of that jovial nonsense which charms chil- 



160 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

dren, but sometimes of a lyric beauty that is surprising. Can 
Tennyson's much-advertised "wind of the western sea" compare 
in simple naturalness and charm with that in the dateless, authorless 
lullaby which sings: 

Oh, the wind is in the west, 

And the guinea's on her nest, 

And I can't find any rest 

For my baby. 

The imagery here is more spontaneous, more sincere in its appeal to 
childish fancy; for one sees the guinea — shy, wild creature that 
nests stealthily so that one rarely sees her at her hiding-place — 
settling down in peace in some secret place secure from surprise. 

We see in these songs the kindly soul of the black nurse, promising 
the child, who is fighting off sleep with that instinctive resistance 
symbolic of our older dread of the long sleep, anything he wishes if 
he will but yield to slumber. He may have all conceivable indiges- 
tibles, from cake to short'nin' bread, or he may possess and ride the 
ponies or wild horses or mules he is forbidden to approach in his 
waking hours. How like our human hope that another sleep will 
yield us joys not realized here! 

These Negro lullabies have their quaint terrors, too, their repel- 
lent suggestions, which might upset a child unused to them. But 
baby calves and lambies dead under sorrowful conditions, great big 
dogs that shake the meadow, and the like, may have but brightened 
the sense of peace and security which a "baby child" felt in its 
mammy's safe embrace. Ole Bangum and the Boar, with its cave 
where lay the bones of a thousand men, lulled to sleep many promi- 
nent Southerners, including General Taylor and President Madison, 
as has been mentioned before. And the song of the murderous Jew's 
daughter, slaying the errant little boy, was used as a lullaby by 
Negro mammies. 

The antiseptic, hygienically brought-up child to-day might suffer 
if he heard such suggestions just before he went to sleep. But then 
he misses more than he escapes, for the ample bosom and enveloping 
arm of a black nurse might be more germy than a hospital ward, yet 
they are vastly comforting; and the youngster who is put to bed and 
made to seek slumber by himself in a dark room may experience 
more alarms than any that terrifying good-night songs might give 
him. 

These simple, homely songs have a touching charm that profes- 
sionally composed lullabies usually lack, for, as Mr. H. E. Krehbiel 
recently said, folk-songs are "the most truthful and the most moving 
music in the world." 



VII 
SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 

THE Negro is perhaps in his happiest mood when he is making 
songs about animals. The living creatures around him are very 
real to him, and eternally interesting. He makes them the objects of 
his amused observation, his philosophic study, and he delights to 
rhyme their characteristics. He elevates them to his own range of 
thought and emotion — anthropomorphizes them, as a theologian 
would say, endowing them with whatever power of reason or cun- 
ning he himself possesses. The Negro moralizes little about the 
much-mentioned but little followed " brotherhood of man," but he 
makes a good deal in his folk-lore of the confraternity of the animal 
world. He gives his cordial recognition to whatever draws breath. 
As he greets his fellow church-member or lodge comrade as 
"Brother," — or "Sister," — so he speaks of "Bre'r Rabbit," 
"Bre'r B'ar," "Mr. Tarrepin and Mr. Toad," "OP King Buzzard," 
and so on. He admires whatever excellent traits they possess, and 
deprecates their shortcomings with a tolerance that condones lapses 
from ethical standards, as if mutely requesting similar sympathy 
with his own failings. His charity, like his humor, is wide and deep. 
The Negro does not sermonize about a bird or beast, as a sophisti- 
cated poet might, or seek to tag a Wordsworthian moral to every in- 
cident. He simply finds all live things entertaining, and likes to talk 
or sing about them. He is closer to nature than even the ancient 
Greeks or Romans were, for his nature imagery is more spontaneous 
and less studied, simpler and not so far-fetched. He stays nearer to 
the earth. He can be more chummy with his " horny ox " or " mulie " 
than an ancient could with a centaur or Pegasus, and yet he rinds 
him quite as diverting and as full of surprising traits. A mule never 
lacks kick for the darky, and a mild-seeming goat has plenty of 
punch. A small Negro boy drives a cow to pasture with the air of a 
courtier escorting a queen; while an old woman converses with her 
cat or her hen on affairs nearest her heart. The confidential manner 
of an old colored man toward a slat-ribbed hound is impressive — 
the attitude of one philosopher in the presence of another. We over- 
hear only one side of discussions between such friends, but may feel 
sure that messages too subtle for our comprehension pass wordlessly. 



l62 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



The Negro has a special tact in dealing with animals, and can get 
more sympathetic response from them than can a white person, as a 
rule. The voice of an old fellow urging on the race horse he has 
tended can speed him to victory better than another. This imme- 
morial fellowship with what we call the lower creatures is a part of 
the Negro's being and sings itself in his folk-songs. Folk-songs are 
dateless and can be placed with respect to time only as they cele- 
brate certain events or changing conditions of society, but many of 
the songs known to belong to slavery times are about animals. For 
example, in "Slave Songs of the United States," published in 1867, 
we find the following, which was even then so old that it had no 
tradition of authorship. It seems really a combination of fragments 
from various Negro folk-songs of early origin. 



CHARLESTON GALS 



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As I walked down the new - cut road, I met the tap and 



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If he dies, I'll tan his skin, And if he lives, I '11 ride him a- gin." 

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Hi - ho, for Charleston gals, Charleston gals are the gals for me. 



As I walked down the new-cut road, 
I met the tap and then the toad. 
The toad commenced to whistle and sing, 
And the possum cut the pigeon's wing. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 163 

Along come an old man riding by; 

"Old man, if you don't mind, your horse will die." 

"If he dies, I'll tan his skin, 

And if he lives, I'll ride him agin." 

Hiho, for Charleston gals, 

Charleston gals are the gals for me. 

As I went walking down the street, 

Up steps Charleston gals to take a walk with me. 

I kep' a- walking and they kep' a- talking, 

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stocking. 

An amusing instance of the inaccuracy of oral transmission of song 
is seen in this rendering of the second line of the first stanza, which 
should read, of course, according to many authentic reports from the 
field, "I met the tarrepin and the toad." This collector — a North- 
erner, I fancy, unaccustomed to Negro dialect and terminology — 
put down what he thought he heard, which does not make sense. The 
Negro puts together nonsensical lines, but they usually have their 
own queer logic. Another variation from what the darky said is in 
the last line of the same stanza. It should read "cut the pigeon- 
wing" and not "cut the pigeon's wing." No actual bird is referred 
to here, but a characteristic Negro dance movement. 

Dorothy Renick, of Waco, Texas, sent a version of the stanza, 
with a chorus which has obviously been lifted from another old-time 
song, Pretty Betty Martin. She says this was an old banjo song. 

Will Harris, of Richmond, contributes a different version of the 
second theme of the old song: 



OLE MARSE JOHN 



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Ef he die, I'll tan his skin, An' ef he don't, I'll 
Chorus 



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ride him a - gin. Oh, mourn-er, you will be free, Yes, mourn-er 



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you will be free, When de good Lawd sets you free. 



164 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Ole Marse John come ridin' by. 
Say, Marse John, dat mule's gwine to die. 
.Ef he die, I'll tan his skin, 
An' ef he don't, I'll ride him agin. 

Chorus 
Oh, mourner, you will be free, 
Yes, mourner, you will be free, 
When de good Lawd sets you free. 

Standin' on de corner, wa'n't doin' no harm 
Up come a 'liceman, grabbed me by de arm. 
Rang a little whistle, blew a little bell; 
Here come de p'trol wagon, runnin' like 



Chorus 

Standin' in de chicken-house on my knees, 
Thought I heard a chicken sneeze. 
Sneezed so hard wid de whoopin' cough, 
Sneezed his head an' his tail right off. 

Chorus 

Katherine Love, of Richmond, sent me some years ago a letter 
from her grandmother, now dead, with comment that establishes 
the authenticity of the old songs she enclosed. 

"I send the following plantation melodies; they are genuine, and, 
so far as I know, have never been put to music. Divorced, however, 
from the original syncopated darky melody, they lose five fifths of 
their interest. Elizabeth, you know, has all her life been trying to 
get the swing and go of Picayune Butler, Picayune Butler, Is She 
Coming to Town? I told of her effort, while I was in Rich- 
mond, and their individual and combined efforts to get it gave us a 
half -hour of the most spontaneous mirth you can imagine. I play 
the music to the following songs. I know they are genuine, for I 
learned them by hearing them sung on the old plantation, and the 
music to them our old ante-bellum carriage driver played on the 
banjo." 

As I was walkin' 'long the new-cut road, 

I met a tarapin an' a toad. 

Ebery time the toad would spring, 

The tarapin cut the pigeon-wing. 

Refrain 
Picayune Butler, 
Picayune Butler, 
Is she comin' in town? 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 165 

My old mistis promised me 
When she died she'd set me free. 
She lived so long, she died so po', 
She lef 01' Sambo pullin' at de hoe. 

Refrain 

The refrain is that of an old song which Professor Kittredge in- 
forms me was sung on the minstrel stage and occurs in various old 
song-books, for example, "The Negro Forget-Me-Not Songster," 
pp. 185, 186. 

A theme that recurs in varying stanzas of these old songs is the 
comparison of the physical make-up of different animals, as well as 
of their distinctive traits. Sometimes, as in the one following, the 
Negro makes satiric comparison of his economic status with that of 
the white man. Mrs. E. H. Ratcliffe, of Natchez, Mississippi, sent 
me this: 

Old Bee Make de Honeycomb 

Raccoon totes de bushy hair; 

Possum he go bare; 
Rabbit comes a-skippin' by, 

'Cause he ain't got none to spare. 

Raccoon hunts in broad daylight; 

Possum hunts in dark, 
An' no thin' never disturbs his min', 

Till he hears old Bingo bark. 

I met Bro. Possum in de road; 

"Bre'r Possum, whar you gwine?" 
"Thank you, kin' sir," said he, 

"I'm a-huntin' muscadine." 

Old Bee make de honeycomb, 
Young Bee makes all de honey. 

Nigger makes de cotton and corn, 
White man gits all de money. 

Monday mornin' break o' day 

White folks got me gwine. 
Saturday night when de sun go down, 

Dat yaller girl am mine. 

Another song including this idea is / Went to My Sweetheart's 
House, sent by Virginia Fitzgerald, of Virginia, who had heard it 
from people familiar with it before the war. It was used as a banjo 
tune. 



1 66 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I Went to my Sweetheart's House 

I went to my sweetheart's house, 

I never was thar befor'. 

They sot me in the corner as still as a mouse. 

An' I ain't gwine thar no mo', mo', mo'. 

An' I ain't gwine thar no mo', my love, 

An' I ain't gwine thar no mo'. 

I had a little rooster, 

He crowed 'bout break o' day; 

An' the weasel come to my house 

An' stole my rooster 'way. 

An' he stole my rooster 'way, my love, 

An' he stole my rooster 'way. 

Jackers come to my house, 

I thought he come to see me. 

But when I come to find out, 

He 'swade my wife to leave me. 

He 'swade my wife to leave, my love, 

He 'swade my wife to leave me. 

When I was a little boy 

'Bout sixteen inches high, 

I think I hear the Jaybird say, 

"I'll marry you bimeby, 

I'll marry you bimeby, my love, 

I'll marry you bimeby." 

De Squirrel is a cunning thing, 

He carries a bushy tail; 

He steal old masser's corn at night 

An' shucks it on a rail, 

An' shucks it on a rail, my love, 

An' shucks it on a rail. 

Possum is a cunning thing, 

He rambles in the dark; 

Much as I kin do to save my life 

Is make my little dog bark, 

Is make my little dog bark, my love, 

Is make my little dog bark. 

The Squirrel car's a bushy tail, 

De Possum's tail am bar'. 

De Raccoon's tail am ringed all round, 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



167 



An' stumped tail am the har', 

An' stumped tail am the har', my love, 

An' stumped tail am the har'. 

A similar song, which is also very old, was sent me by Josephine 
Pankey, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who says that it was taken down 
from the singing of elderly Negroes, who had heard it sung by slaves 
on plantations before the war. 



PAINS IN MY FINGERS 



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Pains in my fin - gers, Pains in my toes; I sent for Doc -tor 

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Sick him, Bob - by, hoo - hoo 




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Sick him, Bobby, hoo ! Oh, pore Ma-ry Jane, He '11 nev-er come here no more. 



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A rab-bit is a cun-nin' thing, He ram-bles aft - er dark; 

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He nev-er thinks to curl his tail Till he hears my bull -dog bark. 

Pains in my fingers, 
Pains in my toes; 
I sent for Dr. Brody 
To know what to do. 

Chorus 
Sick him, Bobby, hoo-hoo ! 
Sick him, Bobby, hoo! 
Oh, pore Mary Jane, 
He'll never come here no more. 

A rabbit is a cunnin' thing, 
He rambles after dark; 
He never thinks to curl his tail 
Till he hears my bull-dog bark. 

Chorus 



i68 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



A squirrel is a pretty thing, 
He carries a pretty tail; 
He eats all the farmer's corn 
And husks it on the rail. 



Chorus 



Ole Master give me holiday, 
Ole Mistis give me more; 
To stick my head in a hollow log 
An' hit me sixty-four. 

Chorus 

Miss Cohen, formerly of Charleston, South Carolina, gives an old 
version in the gullah dialect, as sung by Negroes in her section. 



BOIL DEM CABBAGE DOWN 



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Boil dem cab - bage down, An' tu'n 'em roun' an' roun'. 



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Stop dat fool - in', lit - tie nig - ger gal, An' boil dem cab- 

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bage down ! 


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W'ite folks go to chu'ch, An' he nev - er crack a smile; An' 



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nig - ger go to chu'ch, An' you hear 'im laugh a mile. 

W'ite folks go to chu'ch, 
An' he never crack a smile; 
An' nigger go to chu'ch, 
An' you hear 'im laugh a mile. 

Chorus 
Boil dem cabbage down, 
An' tu'n 'em roun' an' roun'. 
Stop dat foolin', little nigger gal, 
An' boil dem cabbage down I 

Raccoon 'e am bushy- tail', 
An' possum 'e am bare. 
Raccoon 'e am bushy- tail', 
But 'e ain't got none to spare. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 169 

Sally Nelson Robins, of Richmond, who has died since this book 
went to press, sent a Virginia variant of the same song. 
Fox, he got a bushy tail, 
Raccoon tail am bare. 
Rabbit got no tail at all 

Jes' a leetle bit a bunch er hair. 

Chorus 

Git erlong, Liza Jane, 
Git erlong, Liza Jane, 
Git erlong, Liza, po' gal, 
I 'm gwineter leave you now. 

Rat he got a leetle tail, 

Mouse it ain't much bigger. 
White folks got no tail at all, 

Neither have the nigger. 

Chorus 

The rabbit may have started the fashion of bobbed hair, for all we 
know, and perhaps is the original Greenwich Villager. 
. Edwin Swain gives a stanza as it used to be sung in Florida in his 
boyhood, by Negroes that he knew. 

Raccoon got a ring round his tail, 

Possum's tail am bar'. 
Rabbit got no tail at all, 

Nothing but a bunch o' ha'r. 

James E. Morrow reports the following form as he has heard it 
sung in Texas: 

De raccoon carries de bushy tail, 

Possum doan' care 'bout no hair. 
Mister Rabbit, he come skippin' by, 
An' he ain't got none to spare. 

Mrs. C. E. Railing sings this stanza as she learned it from old 
Negroes in Virginia : 

De raccoon hab de bushy tail, 

De possum's tail is bare. 
De rabbit hab no tail at all 

'Cep' a little bitty bunch o' hair. 

Another fragment, given anonymously, varies from this, though 
slightly. 



170 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



De raccoon's tail am very long, 

De possum's tail am bare. 
De rabbit got no tail at all 

'Cept a little bitty bunch of hair. 

The raccoon, he of the long or bushy or ringed tail, according to 
the " songster," and the possum of the wily ways, are celebrated to- 
gether in many versions of another old song. One specimen was 
given by Mary Stevenson Callcott, who took down the music from 
the singing of Lucy Hicks, who wrote down the words. I have pre- 
served the quaint spelling as she put it down. 

The title is Karo Song. Cuero (pronounced cwaro) is a town in 
Texas, and this represents a type of local song, though the set- 
ting has nothing especial to do with the song, appearing only in the 
title. 



KARO SONG 



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Pos - sum up a sim - en tree, Racacoon on de ground; The 



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Rack-coon say, you cun - ing thing Oh, shake them sim -ens down. Oh, 
Chorus 



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here my true love weep - ing, Oh, here my true love sigh; I 



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was gwin-ingdown to Ka - ro town, Down there to live and die. 



Possum up a simen tree, 
Racacoon on de ground; 

The Rackcoon say, you cuning thing 
Oh, shake them simens down. 

Chorus 

Oh, here my true love weeping, 
Oh, here my true love sigh; 

I was gwining down to Karo town, 
Down there to live and die. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 171 

Oh, Marster had a little mule, 

He was colored like a mouse ; 
I went to bridel that mule one day 

And he kicked me in the mouth. 

Chorus 

Old Marster had a little dog, 

He was three quarters hound, 
And every time he struck the trail 

He almost quiter the ground. 

Chorus 

Old Marster had a fine house 

Sixteen stories high 
And every story in that house 

Was filled with chicken pie. 

Chorus 

I went to see Miss Sallie, 

And Miss Sallie she was gone; 
I seat myself in the old arm-chair 

And picked on the old banjo. 

Chorus 

Miss Sallie cooked a ginger cake 

And set it on the shelf; 
'Long come that other Nigero 

And eat it all himself. 

Chorus 



Miss Sallie give me one sweet kiss, 
Which almost killed me dead. 

Chorus 

The Negroes in their folk-songs have a custom of mixing stanzas of 
various songs together in a fashion calculated greatly to perplex con- 
scientious collectors. They do that notably in their religious songs, 
where, at one of their interminable meetings, the recognized stanzas 
of one song will be helped out, when they have been exhausted, by 
additional stanzas remembered at random from other songs. That 
communal necessity for keeping up singing has more reason in a re- 
ligious song than in a secular, for it is often thought best to continue 
one tune till certain "sinners" have " come through." But the usage 
is common in secular songs as well, and we see it illustrated in this 
one under discussion. Here the variation appears chiefly in the 



172 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



chorus, which may take the refrain of a religious song, as in one given 
me in Texas, or of a familiar dance-song. The raccoon and possum 
song, as reported by one collector, has a chorus found in various 
camp-meeting songs: 

Po' Mournah! 

Po' mournah, you shall be free, 
In de mawnin', you shall be free, 
Bress God, you shall be free, 
When de good Lawd sets you free. 

The same stanza appears with the chorus of an old dance -song, 
Oh, dem Golden Slippers, which is not strictly speaking a folk-song, 
though many consider it such, and its author has been said to be a 
Negro. 

RACCOON UP IN DE 'SIMMON TREE 



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Rac - coon up in de 'sim - mon tree, Pos - sum on de ground; 



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Pos - sum say to de raccoon/' Won't you shake dem 'simmons down?" 

Raccoon up in de 'simmon tree, 

Possum on de ground; 
Possum say to de raccoon, 

" Won't you shake dem 'simmons down?" 

Chorus 
Oh, dem golden slippers ! 
Oh, dem golden slippers! 
Golden slippers I 'se gwine to wear 
Beca'se dey look so neat. 
Oh, dem golden slippers! 
Oh, dem golden slippers! 
Golden slippers I 'se gwine to wear 
To walk de golden street. 

Mrs. C. E. Railing, formerly of Richmond, gives a fragment. 

De Raccoon up de 'simmon tree, 

De Possum on de ground. 
De Raccoon up de 'simmon tree, 

"Shake dem 'simmons down." 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 173 

Lydia Gumbel, of Straight College, New Orleans, sends a version 
sung among the Creole Negroes in Louisiana. 

Oh, Bre'er Raccoon, up de persimmon tree, 

Possum on de groun' ; 
Bre'er Rabbit say, " You son of a gun, 

Shake dem persimmons down!" 

Mister Rabbit appears often in these folk-songs, as familiar a 
figure as in the tales Uncle Remus told, and the singer is as fond of 
him for his naive, child-like ways and his cunning, as the old darky 
represented by Harris was. One wonders how the rabbit myth came 
into being, for in actual life the hare is never so resourceful in his 
schemes for escape, never so debonair in his insouciant gaiety, never 
so quick of repartee, as Uncle Remus or the folk-songsters would 
have us imagine. These qualities of intelligence and wit are super- 
imposed upon slight basis. The rabbit in reality shows skill in 
getting through fences to green gardens, prodigious appetite for nib- 
bling young plants most beloved of gardeners or farmers, and swift- 
ness of foot in escaping pursuers. But of Gallic wit and American 
humor he shows no trace in real life. Why is he so beloved of Negro 
workers, of folk-tales and song? Perhaps because of his defenceless- 
ness and his mild ways. If he nibbles young plants, it is as a hungry 
fellow, not a malicious vandal. How is he to know cabbages were not 
planted for his delectation? One recent summer I watched a baby 
rabbit grow up in a Dorothy Perkins rose-tangle beside a Southern 
porch. He ventured forth when nobody was there but me, to play 
leap-frog with himself on the lawn, and to lunch off a row of nas- 
turtiums along a circling stone wall. I never bothered him, and when 
the owner of the porch wondered what was happening to her nas- 
turtiums, I breathed no word of explanation. A young rabbit "on 
his own," as this one was, has a hard time enough dodging hawks 
and hounds, so I surely would set no female gardener on his track. 

The rabbit appears in an innocent and engaging role in a song 
given me by Mr. Dowd, of Charleston, South Carolina. This is in 
the dialogue form dear to the Negro song-maker. 

Mister Rabbit 

"Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, 

Yo' ears mighty long." 
"Yes, my lawd, 

Dey're put on wrong! 

Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine, 
Every little soul must shi-ine, shine, shine." 



174 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



MISTER RABBIT 
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shine, shine, shi - ine, Eve - ry lit - tie soul must shi-ine, shine, shine." 

"Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, 
Yo' coat mighty grey." 
"Yes, my lawd, 

'T was made dat way. 

Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine, 
Every little soul must shi-ine, shine, shine." 

"Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, 
Yo' feet mighty red." 
"Yes, my lawd, 

I'm a-almost dead. 

Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine, 
Every little soul must shi-ine, shine, shine." 

" Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, 
Yo' tail mighty white." 
"Yes, my lawd, 

An' I 'm a-gittin' out o' sight. 

Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine, 
Every little soul must shi-ine, shine, shine." 

Another song about this engaging young person was sent in by 
Wirt Williams, of Mississippi, as sung by Anna Gwinn Pickens. 



Ole Mister Rabbit 

Ole Mister Rabbit, 
You 're in a mighty habit, 
Gwine in mah garden, 
Cuttin' down mah cabbage. 
Um-hum — um-hum . 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



175 



Ole Mister Rabbit, 
Your hair look brown, 
You 'se gwine so fas' 
You'se hittin' de groun'. 
Um-hum — um-hum. 

Another variant is only slightly different: 



OLE MISTER RABBIT 



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Ole Mis - ter Rab - bit, You've got a might -y hab - it, Of 



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jump -in' in the gar - den, And eat - in' up the cab-bage. 

Ole Mister Rabbit, 
You've got a mighty habit, 
Of jumpin' in the garden, 
And eatin' up the cabbage. 



This fragment, given by Miss Emilie Walter, of Charleston, South 
Carolina, is in the gullah dialect: 



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BRA' RABBIT— (OYSCHA') 



Rather fast 



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"Bra' Rab - bit, wa' 'ere da do dere?" "I da 






pick -in' oys-cha' fa' young gal. Da oys - cha' bite. . mah 



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ger, Da young gal tek dat 



fa' laugh at.' 



Bra' Rabbit, wa' 'ere da do dere?" 
"I da pickin' oyscha' fa' young gal. 
Da oyscha' bite mah finger, 
Da young gal tek dat fa' laugh at." 



176 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Lydia Gumbel, of Straight College, New Orleans, sends a Creole 
song which shows Bre'r Rabbit in festive attire, and mood: 

Met Mister Rabbit one night, 
All dressed in his plug hat. 
He turned his nose up in the air, 
Said, "I 'se gwine to Julia's ball, 
So good night, possums all." 

The possum is another favorite with the darky as piece de resis- 
tance for either a meal or a folk-song. The Negro is fond of singing 
about what lies nearest his heart, — or his stomach, — and there is 
no one dish more delectable to him than a fat possum planked with 
" sweet 'taters." In my book, " From a Southern Porch," I quote 
several "possum songs" at length, wherein the darky recounts the 
capture of the wily animal and gives detailed directions for cooking 
it. Here are new "possum songs" not included in that volume. 

This first one comes from Texas, where it was sung by a group of 
Negroes working on the road. A friendly collector loitered near till 
he jotted down the words. 

Great Big Nigger Sittin' on a Log 

Jakey went out a-huntin' on one moonshiny night. 

He treed a possum up yonder out o' sight. 

Tuck his little ax an' begin to chop, 

"Look out, dere, coon! Somp'n's gwine to drop!" 
In de mawnin' you shall be free, 
Hoopy-doodle-doo, you shall be free, 
When de good Lawd set you free. 

Great big nigger sittin' 'hin' a log, 

Hand on de trigger an' de eye on de hog. 

Gun went bang, an' hog went zip! 

Nigger run wid all his grip. 

Po' mourner, you shall be free, 
Hoopy-doodle, an' you shall be free, 
When de good Lawd set you free. 

My gal, she 's de big town talk, 
Her foot covers de whole sidewalk, 
Her eyes like two big balls o' chalk, 
Her nose is lak a long cornstalk. 

Sister Mary, you shall be free, 

In de mawnin' you shall be free. 

Po' mourner, you shall be free, 

When de good Lawd set you free. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 177 

The possum's fondness for muscadine, a delicious variety of grape 
growing wild in southern woods, sometimes called fox-grape, is com- 
mented on in the following stanza given me as sung by George 
Ragland, of Kentucky: 

I met a possum in de road, 

"Bre'r Possum, whar you gwine?" 

"I bless my soul and thank my stars 
To hunt some muscadine." 

E. H. Ratcliffe, of Mississippi, remembered a stanza he had heard 
Negroes sing in his childhood, concerning the shy, reserved ways of 
the possum. 

I met a possum in the road, 

And 'shamed he looked to be. 
He stuck his tail between his legs 
And gave the road to me. 

I gave in my "Southern Porch" a quatrain mentioning a possum, 
for which a correspondent sends me a match, as announcing the 
birth, not of a "little gal," but of a "little boy." 

Possum up de gum-stump, 

Coony up de hollow; 
Little gal at our house 

Fat as she kin wallow! 

The possum figures in many other songs, but these are enough to 
illustrate his endearing young charms as the Negro sees them. 

The natural companion for the possum is, of course, the coon, and 
the two are mentioned together in various folk-songs, as has already 
been seen. The coon has some songs in which he is celebrated alone, 
however, though he is not so dear to the colored heart as the pos- 
sum. 

W. R. Boyd, Jr., formerly of Texas, gave me a "coon" song which 
he remembered from hearing his father sing it in his childhood. 

Settin' on a Rail 

As I went out by the light of the moon, 

So merrily singin' this here old tune, 

Thar I spies a fat raccoon 

A-settin' on a rail, 

Settin' on a rail, 

Settin' on a rail, 

Ha-ha! Ha-ha, Ha-ha, Ha-ha! 

Sleepin' mighty sound. 



i 7 8 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 
SETTIN' ON A RAIL 



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rail, Ha -ha! Ha - ha, Ha - ha, Ha-ha! Sleepin' might - y sound. 

And up to him I slowly creeped, 
And up to him I slowly creeped, 
And up to him I slowly creeped, 
And I cotch him by de tail, 
And I cotch him by de tail, 
And I cotch him by de tail, 
Ha-ha! Ha-ha, Ha-ha, Ha-ha! 
And I yank him off dat rail. 

This is an old version of the song I have found, with no ascription 
of authorship and no copyright, a fact that indicates its age, at least, 
whether it be an old minstrel song or a genuine folk-song: 

As I walked out by de light ob de moon, 
So merrily singing dis same tune, 
I cum across a big raccoon, 

A-sittin' on a rail, sittin' on a rail, 

Sittin' on a rail, sittin' on a rail, 
Sleepin' wery sound. 

I at de raccoon take a peep, 
An' den so softly to him creep, 
I found de raccoon fast asleep, 

An' pull him off de rail, pull him off de rail, 

Pull him off de rail, pull him off de rail, 
An' fling him on de ground. 

De raccoon 'gan to scratch and bite, 
I hit him once wid all my might, 
I bung he eye an' spile he sight, 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 179 

Oh, I'm dat chile to fight, I'm dat chile to fight, 
I 'm dat chile to fight, I 'm dat chile to fight, 
An' beat de banjo, too. 

I tell de raccoon 'gin to pray, 

While on de ground de raccoon lay, 

But he jump up an' run away, 

An' soon he out ob sight, soon he out ob sight, 
Soon he out ob sight, soon he out ob sight, 
Sittin' on a rail. 

My ole massa dead an' gone, 
A dose o' poison help him on, 
De Debil say he funeral song, 

Oh, bress him, let him go! bress him, let him go! 

Bress him, let him go! bress him, let him go! 
An' joy go wid him, too. 

De raccoon hunt so very quare, 
Am no touch to kill de deer, 
Beca'se you cotch him widout fear, 

Sittin' on a rail, sittin' on a rail, 

Sittin' on a rail, sittin' on a rail, 
Sleepin' wery sound. 

Ob all de songs I eber sung 

De raccoon hunt 's de greatest one, 

It always pleases old an' young, 

An' den dey cry encore, den dey cry encore, 
An' den dey cry encore, den dey cry encore, 
An' den I cum agin. 

The coon comes in as a table delicacy in a song sent by Mrs. 
Cammilla Breazeale, from Natchitoches, Louisiana. 

My little yaller coon 

Done got back here so soon, 

Dat I ain't yet got 

De big fat coon 

For de 'tater an' de pone, 

To eat in de light of de moon. 

Most of the wild or forest animals that the Negro mentions in 
folk-songs are those that he encounters here in America, animals 
native to the South. But sometimes he reverts to ancestral memo- 
ries, perhaps, or indulges in imaginative excursions where he meets 
other creatures, not seen in his rounds here. But for the mention of 



l8o NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



seven-up" in the first stanza of the song given below, one might 
fancy it a possible atavistic throw-back. But African jungles 
did not know that lively game, so far as we have any information, so 
this must be a more modern poem. It is a Creole song sent to me by 
Worth Tuttle Hedden, who got it from Maude Fuller, of Straight 
College, New Orleans. 

The Monkey and the Baboon 

The monkey and the baboon 
Playing seven-up. 
The monkey won the money 
And was scared to pick it up. 

The monkey and the baboon 
Running a race. 
The monkey fell down 
And skint his face. 

The monkey and the baboon 
Climbed a tree. 
The monkey flung a cocoanut 
Right at me ! 

A couple of other monkey fragments, tantalizing in their incom- 
pleteness, were given me by Mary Stevenson Callcott, of Texas. 

Monkey married the baboon's sister, 
Smacked his lips and then he kissed her. 
Kissed so hard he raised a blister, 
She set up a yell. 

What do you think the bride was dressed in? 
Green gauze veil and white glass breast-pin. 



Monkey sitting on the end of a rail, 
Picking his teeth with the end of his tail. 

A general assembly of the wild animals is made in a song about 
Noah and his roll-call in the Ark. " Norah " and his Ark are familiar 
and fond themes to the folk-songster, and we see countless variations 
on the situation. But in this particular " arkaic " ditty, the emphasis 
is on the animals rather than on Noah, or his household, or his labors 
in constructing his famous vessel. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 181 

Did n't old Noah build him an ark, 
Build it out of hickory bark; 
Animals come in one by one, 
Cow a-chewing a caraway bun. 

Chorus 
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah to de Lamb. 

Hallelu, Hallelu. 
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah to de Lamb. 

Hallelu, Hallelu. 

Animals come in two by two, 

Rhinoceros an' kangaroo. 

Animals come in three by three, 

Bear a-huggin' a bumble-y bee. Chorus 

Animals come in four by four, 

Noah go mad an' shouted for more. 

Animals come in five by five, 

Thus the animals did arrive. Chorus 

Animals come in six by six, 

Hyena laughed at the monkey's tricks. 

Animals come in seben by seben, 

Said the ant to the elephant, 

1 ' Who 's you shoving? ' ' Chorus 

Animals come in eight by eight, 

Noah hollered, "Go shut dat gate." 

Animals come in nine by nine, 

Noah hollered, " Go cut dat line." Chorus 

The creation of the animals, as well as their later convocation 
into the Ark, is told in a Creation song sung for me by Dr. Merle 
St. Croix Wright. 

Story of Creation 

First He made a sun, 
Then He made a moon, 
Then He made a possum, 
Then He made a coon. 

All de other creatures 
He made 'em one by one; 
Stuck 'em on de fence to dry 
As soon as they was done. 



182 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



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STORY OF CREATION 



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First He made a sun, Then He made a moon, Then He made a pos-sum, 



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Then He made a coon. All de oth-er crea-tures He made 'em one by one; 

Refrain. Quicker 



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Stuck 'em on de fence to dry As soon as they was done. Walk-ee-in, walk-ee-in, 



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Walk in, I say. Walk in - to de par -lor And hear deban-jo play. 

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Walk in - to de parlor And hear de Niggers sing, And watch de Nigger's fingers As he 



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Slower, as in beginning 



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picks up - on de string. Zing, zing, zing, zing, Zing, Zing, Zing. . 

Refrain 

Walk-ee-in, walk-ee-in, 
Walk in, I say. 
Walk into de parlor 
And hear de banjo play. 
Walk into de parlor 
And hear de Niggers sing, 
And watch de Nigger's ringers 
As he picks upon de string. 

Zing, zing, zing, zing, 

Zing, Zing, Zing. 

Old Mudder Eve 
Could n't sleep widout a pillow, 
And de greatest man dat ever lived 
Was Jack de Giant-killer. 

Old Noah, he was a mighty man 
An' built a mighty ark, 
And got all de critters in 
Jes' before dark. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 183 

'Long come de elephant, 
Noah, says he, " You 're drunk." 
"Oh, no sir," said de elephant. 
"I'se stopped to pack my trunk." 

The domestic animals come in for their share of attention also in 
Negro folk-songs. The horse, the mule, the dog, the cat, the pig, and 
so forth are celebrated suitably in song. Familiarity breeds not con- 
tempt, but comradeship, it would seem, and surely "critters" would 
render service more willingly if the songs sung in their presence, or to 
them, were about them as well. 

John Trotwood Moore, of Nashville, Tennessee, contributes an 
ancient fragment about an old grey horse — not the famous "ole 
grey horse" that came "tearin' out o' de wilderness, down in Ala- 
bam'," but another, obviously from Tennessee. 

Come down to Tennessee 

(Ride er ole grey horse). 
Yaller gal 's de gal for me 

(Ride er ole grey horse). 
Kiss her under de mulberry tree 

(Ride er ole grey horse). 
Oh my, Nigger, don't you see, 
Better come to Tennessee? 

The old grey horse from Alabam' had his match in the mare of 
similar color and speed, sung of in certain quarters. 

The old grey mare come a- tearin' out o' the wilderness, 
Tearin' out o' the wilderness, 
Tearin' out 0' the wilderness. 

The old grey mare come a-tearin' out o' the wilderness, 
Down in Alabam'. 

The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be, 
She ain't what she used to be, 
She ain't what she used to be. 
The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be, 
Down in Alabam'. 

Douglas Batchelor, formerly of North Carolina, insists that the 
old grey horse he knew came "trottin"' out of the wilderness; but 
maybe horses in North Carolina are less speedy. I have been told 
that army men have added stanzas to this "old grey mare," which no 
one seems willing to give me. 



1 84 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

A little pony constitutes the inspiration for a song from Dorothy 
Renick, of Texas — a beast that must have been as difficult to turn 
as an awkward automobile in the hands of a woman driving it the 
first time. 

I had a little pony, 

I rode him down town. 

And ev'ry time I turned him round, 

Turn him on an acre ground! 

Boots and shoe-line come down, 
Lady shoe-line come down; 
Boots and shoe-line come down, 
Lady shoe-line come down. 

Then there is the little pony I used to hear my mother sing about 
— an animal beloved of the slaves on her childhood's plantation. 

I had a little pony, 

His name was Jack; 
I rid his tail 

To save his back. 

A certain folk-stanza occurs repeatedly in varying forms, the only 
elements that remain constant being a river and a horse — unsta- 
tionary as they both might seem. 
One says: 

I went to the river 

And could n't get across. 
Jumped on a Nigger-back 
And thought he was a hoss. 

Mr. Dowd, formerly of Charleston, South Carolina, gives this 
version: 

Sister Cyarline 

I went to de river 

An' I could n't get across; 

Down by de river. 

I jumped on a Nigger-back 

An' thought he was a hoss. 

Cyarline, O Cyarline! 

Can't you dance de pea-vine? 

Aunt Jemima, o-I-o ! 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 185 

Charles Carroll of New Orleans sings it after this fashion: 

I went to the river 
And could n't get across. 
Jumped on an alligator 
And thought it was a horse. 

Mrs. Hatchell, New Orleans, knows this form: 

I went to the river, 
And could n't get across; 
Paid five dollars 
For an old blind horse. 

A nonsense fragment about an antique equine was given by Mrs. 
W. D. Martin. 

De old hoss kick 

And a hippy-doodle. 

De old hoss kick 

And a hippy-doodle. 

The old hoss kick hard in the stable, 

And he could n't git his foot out 

Because he was n't able! 

The little pony whose rider chose a queer position for economic 
reasons had its running-mate in an old mule that was treated in like 
fashion: 

I had a old mule, 

His name was Jack, 

I rode on his tail to save his back. 

The lightning roll, the thunder flash, 

An' split my coat-tail clear to smash. 

The mule seems an unpoetic subject, on the whole, and it would 
perhaps be dangerous to take vers liberties with him, for his feet, 
while perhaps not strictly metrical in their movement, have their 
own crude emphasis. But poets or " songsters" refuse to be fettered 
as to inspiration, and so the mule, too, has his celebrants in song. 
The lyric outburst given below was contributed by Mary Stevenson 
Callcott, of Texas. It is fervent and sincere in its emotion, one must 
confess. 



i86 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 
WHOA, MULE! 



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Whoa, mule, whoa, mule, whoa, mule, I tell you, Whoa, mule, I say! 



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Lor - dy, lor - dy, save us, Hee - haw, hee - haw, hee - haw! 



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Lor - dy, lor - dy, save us! 
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Whoa, mule, I say! 



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Whoa, mule, I tell you, Whoa, mule, I say! Ain't got time to 



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Whoa, mule, whoa, mule, whoa, mule, I tell you, 

Whoa, mule, I say! 

Tied a slip-knot in his tail 

And his head slipped through the collar. 

Lordy, lordy, save us, 

Hee-haw, hee-haw, hee-haw! 

Lordy, lordy, save us! 

Whoa, mule, I say! 

Chorus 
Whoa, mule, I tell you, 
Whoa, mule, I say! 
Ain't got time to kiss you now, 
But don't you run away. 

W 7 hat a spontaneous expression of romance and realism is found in 
a song sent from Mississippi by Wirt A. Williams! The "mulie" re- 
ferred to here is not a mule, as urban readers might ignorantly sup- 
pose, but an ox without horns. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 187 

Last Year Was a Fine Crap Year 

Last year was a fine crap year 

On corn and peas and 'maters; 

My pa did n't raise no cotton and corn, 

But, oh, good Lord, the 'taters! 

Chorus 
Haw, Buck, haw, Buck, haw! 
Who made de back band? Say you don't know? 
Soon as I git my crap laid by 
I 'se gwine home to Julie. 

Last year I ploughed de horny ox, 
Dis year I ploughs de mulie. 
Soon as I git my crap laid by 
I'se gwine home to Julie. 

Chorus 

I know of no modern, sophisticated poets who metrically eulogize 
a hound or billy-goat — unless the one responsible for 

You got to quit kickin' my dog around, 
I don't care if he is a hound, 

be considered a case in point. But after all, why should not the 
faithful though unhandsome brute who companions the Negro's 
hours of idleness be lyricized, as well as, say, a bird or stag or some 
creature indifferent to his existence? 

The unknown author of the song contributed by Mrs. Bartlett 
seems to have felt strongly on her subject. Mrs. Bartlett writes: 
" There is another that Mr. Bartlett used to delight the children 
with. I used to know a colored chambermaid at Hollins, named 
Penny, who said something like it, only her 'speech' had to do with 
a rabbit; but she used the same nonsensical interruptions and as- 
sumed the same expression of inspired idiocy that Mr. Bartlett 
deems fitting for the proper interpretation of Ole Aunt Dinah." 

Ole Aunt Dinah — sick in bed, 

Eegisty — ogisty! 
Sent for the doctah — doctah said, 

Eegisty — ogisty! 
" Git up, Dinah, — 

Ring-ding-ah-ding — ah 
You ain't sick. 

Eegisty — ogisty! 



1 88 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

All you need 

Ring-ding-ah-ding — ah ! 
Is a hickory stick!" 

Eegisty-ogisty — ring-ding-ah-ding — ah ! 

The dashes stand for peculiar "spittings and puffings with the lips, 
that defy expression. However, they are an important part of the 
rhythm of the incantation. There is another verse which I write out 
without attempting the gutterals and fanciful refrains, though they 
must be understood as accompanying it: 

Ole Aunt Dinah went to town, 

Riding a billy-goat, leading a hound. 

Hound barked, billy-goat jumped, 
Set Aunt Dinah straddle of a stump. 

This might be compared with the predicament of one Daniel 
Tucker, in the fragment given by Mary Stevenson Callcott and 
others: 

Old Dan Tucker went to town, 

Riding a horse and leading a hound. 
The hound did bark, the horse did jump, 
And left Dan Tucker straddle of a stump. 

Who knows what dateless tragedy in some colored farm was re- 
sponsible for the outburst reported by Mrs. A. J. Smith, from Texas? 
At least let us rejoice that the comforts of literature are left to the 
singer, even if his dogs are dead. 

JlMMIE-M A-RlLE Y-OH ! 

I looked down the road 
And I seed de dust a-risin'. 

Jimmie-ma-riley-oh ! 
The big dog dead 
An' the little one a-pizened. 

Jimmie-ma-riley-oh ! 
And when I get a new book 
I read it to the chillun. 

Jimmie-ma-riley-oh ! 

This suggests the version sent by Mrs. Richard Clough Thomp- 
son, of Arkansas, though the latter omits the dogs : 

I look up de road and see de dust a-risin', 

Johnny kum a-rango way! 
Did you eber see a yaller gal lickin' 'lasses candy? 

Johnny kum a-rango way! 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



189 



Hoover would give at least practical, if not poetic, approval of the 
fragment sung by Anne Gilmer, wherein the lowly pig has his meed 
of mention. She learned it from Negroes at Orange, Texas. 



O-O-OH, SISTREN AN' BRED'REN 



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skin? De skin feeds de pigs, An' de pigs feeds you. 



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tren an' bred - ren, Is . . not dat true? 



O-o-oh, sistren an' bred'ren, 
Don't you think it is a sin 

For to go to peel potatoes 
An' to cas' away de skin? 

De skin feeds de pigs, 

An' de pigs feeds you. 

O-o-oh, sistren an' bred'ren, 

Is not dat true ? 



Miss Gilmer says that the Negro rendition of this is dramatic. The 
O-o-oh should be wound up with circular motion of the hand. 

The cat appears less often in Negro folk-song than most of the 
"beasties," but does come in occasionally, as the "yaller cat" that 
Juba killed. The Cat Came Back is not a folk-song, but it is in 
oral circulation in the South, and has experienced some slight folk- 
changes. 

A shout-song from the Tidewater district of South Carolina, given 
by Miss Emilie Walters, mentions the various animals in rather 
curious fashion. The idea seems to be that the singer's feelings will 
not be hurt by any metaphor likening him to a lower creature. 



190 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



YOU CALL ME DOG, I DON' KER 



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You call me dog, . . I don' ker, Oh, rock-um jub - a - lee! 

You call me dog, I don' ker, 

Oh, my Lord! 
You call me dog, I don' ker, 

Oh, rockum jubalee! 

You call me cat, I don' ker, 

Oh, my Lord! 
You call me cat, I don' ker, 

Oh, rockum jubalee! 

You call me mule, I don' ker, 

Oh, my Lord ! 
You call me mule, I don' ker, 

Oh, rockum jubalee! 

You call me snake, I don' ker, 

Oh, my Lord! 
You call me snake, I don' ker, 

Oh, rockum jubalee! 

This was used to teach very young children to "shout and clap," 
which was done in syncopated time as an accompaniment. The 
verses were endless, as every known and unknown biological speci- 
men was introduced. 

Mrs. Ratcliffe of Natchez has two felines in a fragment of folk- 
song she gave me : 

Mary, she did dream a dream, 

As she was floating down the stream. 

When she woke, she gave a sigh, 

The grey cat kicked out the black cat's eye! 

Birds and fowls also enter into the biological folk-song of the 
Negro. Feathers, wild and tame alike, flit through the lines, for the 
Negro makes comrades of the creatures that come into his life. He 
shows this difference from the sophisticated poet in that he devotes 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 1 91 

more attention to realism and less to sentimentalism, has more 
humor and less of the pathetic fallacy. He does not go into adjectival 
ecstasies over the song of the mocking-bird — or any other bird, so 
far as I know; nor does he choose the conventional effusions of com- 
parison. A bird is to him not a goddess of the sky, but a human 
being, a creature not of moonlit magic but of sunshine actuality, not 
a thing to be worshipped from afar but to be hailed as comrade of 
the field. In other words, a bird, not a trim-Shakespeare, not a light- 
winged dryad of the trees, no unbodied joy, or glow-worm golden, 
or anything of the sort. The darky of the South deals with birds in 
his own familiar manner. 

The jay-bird, that lovely thing with a rascal nature and a ribald 
tongue, is well enough understood by the black man who works in 
the open near him all day and is convinced that you never see jay- 
birds on Friday because that day they all spend in torment, carrying 
sand for the devil. So there is no mawkish admiration for his beauty, 
no misconception of his attitudinizing. When the Negro sings of him 
this is what he says: 

Jay-bird sittin' on a hickory limb ; 
He winked at me and I winked at him, 
And I picked up a rock an' hit him on the chin. 
And he said, "Now, look here, Mr. Wilson, 
Don't you do dat agin." 

Chorus 

Jim crack corn — I don't care, 

Jim crack corn — I don't care, 

Jim crack corn — I don't care, 

'Cause Massa's gone away. 

Here the jay borrows for his own use the saucy chorus of an old 
Negro folk-song. 

Or the audacious bird may be addressed as Mrs. Tom Bartlett 
reports, in a version which was one of her father's favorites. She 
writes: "In reading your book, 'From a Southern Porch/ I was re- 
minded of two songs that suggested themselves very naturally after 
reading the classic, Possum up a Gum-stump that was one of my 
father's favorites, and Raccoon up a Simmon Tree." 

Jay-bird settin' on a hickory limb ; 
I picked up a rock an' hit him on the chin. 
"Good God, Nigger! Don't you do that again!" 
Whoo-jamboree, a-whoo-whoo ! 



1 92 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Ole Massa and Mistis ridin' in a hack, 
That's what gives a Nigger the pain in the back! 
With a whoo- jamboree, a-whoo-whoo ; 
A whoo- jamboree, a-whoo-whoo! 

The Negro is not limited to the birds which poets usually lyricize, 
— the lark, the nightingale, the mocking-bird, — but he knows 
some the classic poets never heard of. He is bound by no traditions, 
but sings what pleases him. He is liberated from conventional con- 
cepts, first because he is born free of nature, and then because he 
makes his song for his own pleasure, not to please some crabbed 
editor shut up in a dark cell in Manhattan. He is not even interested 
in his audience, for he sings to himself in the field, and if the cotton 
rows or the rail fence dislike his metre, at least they say nothing 
about it. The Negro can see the dramatic values and the character 
interest in a bird not usually regarded with affection, as in the 
"Hawkie" reported by Wirt Williams from Mississippi. 

Hawkie Is a Schemin' Bird 

Hawkie is a schemin' bird, 
He schemes all round the sky; 
He schemes into my chicken house 
And makes my chickens fly. 

Chorus 
Git along down town, 
Git along down town, 
Git along down to Vickburg town 
For to lay my 'baccer down. 

Went up on de mountain 
To give my horn a blow; 
Thought I heard my sweetheart say, 
"Yonder comes my beau." 

Chorus 
Climbed up on a mountain 
To cut me a load of cane, 
To make me a barrel o' sorghum 
For to sweeten Liza Jane. 

Chorus 
Got a train in Cairo 
Sixteen coaches long; 
All I want dat train to do 
Is to fotch my gal along. 

Chorus 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 193 

What member of the Poetry Society of America would apos- 
trophize a buzzard, I ask you? Yet the colored man of the field finds 
fellowship even there, as we see in a stanza reported by Professor 
W. A. Kern, of Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, 
Virginia. 

Old King Buzzard floating high, 

" Sho do wish old cow would die." 

Old cow died, old calf cried, 

"Oh mourner, you shall be free." 

What camaraderie is shown in such lines as those to a wood- 
pecker, sent in by Elsie Brown, of Asheville, North Carolina! 

Peckerwood, peckerwood, 
What makes your head so red? 
You peck out in the sun so long, 
It's a wonder you ain't dead. 

A Negro on Howard Snyder's plantation in Mississippi summed 
up considerable of his philosophy of life, as well as of nature study, 
in stanzas which lack logical sequence but seem fervent and sincere. 

Monkey settin' on de end uf a rail 
Pickin' his teeth wid de end uf his tail. 
Mulberry leaves un' calico sleeves, 
All school teachers is so hard to please. 

Red bird settin' up in de 'simmon tree, 
Possum settin' on de ground; 
Sparrow come along un' say, 
"Shake dem 'simmons down." 

De hen dip de snuff, 
De rooster chew terbaccer, 
De guinea don't chew 
But strut her sulf . 

Pigs under de table 
Rats on de shelf. 
I 'm so tired uf sleepin* 
All by my sulf. 

The Negro is interested in the domestic fowls perhaps more than 
in wild birds, and drumsticks move him to song more spontaneously 
than feathered vocal cords, it would seem. He feels midnight in- 
spiration at times, but not from rheumatic waiting to hear a night- 
ingale warble. No, he goes in search of his thrills and finds them in 



194 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

unpoetic places. For instance, there is the song about "my oP 
friend, as cute as a mouse," who stole into the chicken house and 
lifted all the hens, which is in my "From a Southern Porch," and so 
should not be repeated here. But a similar song with a differing 
chorus, given by Louise Garwood, of Houston, Texas, may appro- 
priately be given. 

Fragment from Pore Mournah 

Creepin' in de henhouse on mah knees, 
Thought ah heard a chicken sneeze ! 
'Twan't no thin' but a rooster sayin' his prayers, 
Makin' a speech to de hens upstairs. 

Chorus 

Pore mournah, you shall be free, 
In de mornin' you shall be free! 
Pore mournah, you shall be free, 
When de good Lawd sets you free ! 

Mah oV Mistis promised me 

When she dies she 'd set me free. 

She libed so long dat her head got bald; 

Don't b'lieve old Mistis gwine die aytall. 

Chorus 
As ah was goin' down de road, 
Wid a hahd team an' a heavy load, 
Ah cracked dat whip an' de mule he sprung, 
But de ole hoss busted de wagon-tongue ! 

The license, poetic and otherwise, associated with "hen-houses" 
is illustrated by the variations which oral circulation has given to 
the song Dar y s a Lock on the Chicken-house Door, which Professor 
Kittredge tells me is a comparatively modern stage-piece. 

And of course every Southerner knows : 

Chickens in de bread tray, 

Scratchin' out de dough. 
Granny, will yo' dog bite? 

No, chile, no ! 
Granny, will yo' dog bite? 

No, chile, no! 

Then there is the ambitious chicken in the stanza given me by an 
old colored cook in Waco : 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



195 



SHANGHAI CHICKEN 



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Hoo-day! Take dat egg a month to fall, Hoo -day! Hoo -day! 

Shanghai chicken an' he grow so tall, 

Hooday! Hooday! 
Take dat egg a month to fall, 

Hooday! Hooday! 

Other fowls have their tribute of praise, even if chickens do come 
first. The ditty concerning one Aunt Patsy and her old grey goose, 
which appeared in the first chapter of this volume, has its variants 
as well. The owner of the unfortunate goose appears diversely as 
Aunt Nancy, Aunt Abby, and so on, but the goose remains constant, 
always old and always grey, and its sad fate ever the same. Professor 
Kittredge writes me, concerning this lament: "This is borrowed 
from the whites. My grandfather, born in New Hampshire in 1798, 
used to sing it, 'Tell Aunt Dinah,' etc." But I am reluctant to sur- 
render this favorite to the whites — especially the Yankees! Lois 
Upshaw, of Dallas, Texas, gives a version with a little additional 
tune. 

Go Tell Aunt Tabbie 

Go tell Aunt Tabbie, 
Go tell Aunt Tabbie, 
Go tell Aunt Tabbie, 
The old grey goose is dead. 

The one she was a-savin', 
The one she was a-savin', 
The one she was a-savin' 
To make a feather bed. 

Chorus 
She was in the pond a-swimmin', 
In the pond a-swimmin', 
In the pond a-swimmin', 
An' now she is dead; 



196 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



She was in the pond a-swimmin', 
In the pond a-swimmin', 
Caught her foot on a 'simmon root, 
An' a turtle got her head. 

GO TELL AUNT TABBIE 



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Caught her foot on a 'sim-mon root, An' a tur - tie got her head. 

The turkey, ungraceful though beloved fowl, scrambles through a 
somewhat repetitious song contributed by Miss Emilie Walters of 
Charleston, South Carolina, as sung years ago by the Negroes of that 
section. 

Rock to See de Turkey Run 

Rock to see de turkey run, 
Run, run, run, run, run, run. 
Rock to see de turkey run, 
Run, run, run, run, run, run. 
Rock to see de turkey run, 
Run, run, run. 

There are various other examples, as the song 

I had a little rooster 

And my rooster pleased me, 






SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 197 

which goes on for some length. And there is the round about the 
rooster who would persist in crowing before day — an annoying 
enough habit, as anyone will concede. Too, there is the guinea, who 
appeared in the lullaby where "the guinea's on her nest." I have 
heard snatches of an entertaining barnyard song chanted by an old 
Negro in Abilene, where the rooster crows, "Preacher's comin' to- 
morrow!" and the other fowls respond characteristically; but I 
have not been able to get it. 

So catholic are the Negro's interests in nature that he sees 
rhyme-worthy inspiration even in reptiles, from which most poets 
shudder away. True, Milton mentions one serpent of distinction, 
but on account of his diabolic nature, which raised him to dignity. 
He did not write of the snake as a snake. Now, the darky can appre- 
ciate the essential reptilian qualities and respect the cleverness of 
even the picaresque rattler. There is one memorable rattlesnake 
that writhes its way through many variants of an old quatrain, as in 
the second stanza of a song given by Elizabeth Dickinson, of Bir- 
mingham, Alabama. 

There Was an Old Nigger, His Name Was Dr. Peck 

There was an old Nigger, his name was Dr. Peck; 
He fell in de well an' broke his neck. 
De cause ob de fall was all his own, 
'Case he orter look atter de sick 
An' let de well alone! 

Chorus 

You shall be free, mourners, 

You shall be free, 

When de good Lawd set you free. 

As I was goin' through de old cornfield, 
A rattlesnake bit me on de heel. 
I turned right round for to run my best, 
An' run my head right in a hornet's nest. 

Chorus 

The bullfrog, too, springs into notice in these old folk-songs. 
Various basso stanzas announce his personality and actions, as the 
one given by Anne Gilmer, of Orange, Texas, which was learned from 
Negro nurses. 



198 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 
BULLFROG 



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hick - 'ry limb, An' I ain't a - gwine to weep no mo'. . 
Chorus 



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jine dat heavenly band, Where dere ain't an -y weep-in' an-y mo'.. . 

Bullfrog jumped in de middle ob de spring, 

An' I ain't a-gwine to weep no mo'. 
He tied his tail to a hick'ry limb, 

An' I ain't a-gwine to weep no mo'. 

Chorus 
Fare ye well, my ladies, 
I'll jine dat heavenly band, 
Where dere ain't any weepin' any mo'. 
Fare ye well, my ladies, 
I'll jine dat heavenly band, 
Where dere ain't any weepin' any mo'. 

He kicked an' he r'ared an' he could n't make a jump, 

An' I ain't a-gwine to weep no mo'. 
He kicked an' he r'ared an' he could n't make a jump, 

An' I ain't a-gwine to weep no mo'. 

Chorus 

The bullfrog that E. H. Ratcliffe, of Natchez, Mississippi, re- 
membered must have been in a rampageous mood. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 199 

The bullfrog jumped from the bottom of a well, 

And swore that he was just from hell; 

He tied his tail to a hickory stump 

And he r'ared and he pitched but he could n't make a jump. 

Other reptilian folk appear in a song given by Josephine Pankey of 
Little Rock, Arkansas, which was sung by slaves before the war and 
was "fiddled" for the Negro dancers. 

Old Dan Tucker 

Oh, Daniel Tucker on the railroad track, 

Pinnin' the engine to his back, 
Trimmin' the corners of the railroad wheel, 

Give him the toothache in his heel. 

Chorus 
Oh, Sambo, pore boy, 

Oh, Sambo, pore boy! 
The frog wanted to come, 

But he did n't have the chance. 

The cricket played the fiddle, 

An' the tadpole danced. 
The frog wanted to come, 

But he did n't have the chance. 

Chorus 

I sympathize with the disappointment of the frog and wonder 
what ill fate it was that kept him back. I have an affectionate in- 
terest in frogs and toads, and still grieve for my pets, Nip and Tuck, 
twin little toads in " From a Southern Porch." But the most famous 
frog is he that has a ballad all his own, recorded here in an earlier 
chapter, describing his wooing. 

Fish seem not to have been caught much in folk-song, but I have 
found at least one stanza, a fragment sung years ago by the Negroes 
in Angelina County, Texas. 

Catfish runnin' down de stream, 
Yes, my Lawd, I'll meet you. 
Run so hard he could n't be seen, 
Yes, my Lawd, I'll meet you. 

Insects, too, have their shrill little part in this biological orchestra- 
tion. The cricket fiddler mentioned above is not by himself, for there 
are various others, as the flea I quoted in my " Southern Porch," 



200 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

as quick at repartee as at hopping, and the bedbug from that same 
volume, not so gifted as the June bug and the lightning bug — but 
arriving at his objective "jes' de same." There is the "grass-mo 
whopper settin' on a sweet potato vine" in the same Porch milieu, 
picked from his attractive setting by "Mr. Turkey Gobble- wobble," 
who came walking up behind him in an unsportsmanlike manner. 
Since the music was not given in the former volume, I will add it 
here. A different form of it appears in a spiritual sent by Lucy 
Dickinson Urquhart, of Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Zaccheus Climbed the Sycamo' Tree 

Zaccheus climbed the sycamo' tree, 

Few days, few days! 
Zaccheus climbed the sycamo' tree, 

Few days, get along home. 
Oh, he's way up yondeh — oh, he's way up yondeh, 
Oh, he's way up yondeh in dat sycamo' tree. 

Zaccheus climbed his Lord fo' to see, 

Few days, few days! 
Zaccheus climbed his Lord fo' to see, 

Few days, get along home. 
Oh, he's way up yondeh — oh, he's way up yondeh, 
Oh, he's way up yondeh, in dat sycamo' tree! 

Mrs. Urquhart says: "The following stanza may have been im- 
provised by some less reverent mind. But that only goes to show 
that it is a real folk-song, in that it is a composite production." 

Grasshopper settin' on a sweet 'tater vine, 

Few days, few days! 
Shangai rooster crope up behine, 

Few days, git along home. 
Oh, he's way up yondeh — oh, he's way up yondeh, 
Oh, he's way up yondeh, in dat syc'mo' tree! 

Then there was the "po' inch- worm" in the spiritual Keep 
A-Inchin 1 Along, and the "inchin' wurum" that cut down the 
"go'd vine" which had grown up to shade the luckless Jonah from 
the sun, in the chant from South Carolina. 

Mississippi Negroes sing nonsensically, 

Shoo fly, don't you bodder me, 
Shoo fly, don't you bodder me, 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 201 

Shoo fly, don't you bodder me, 
For I belongs to Company G. 

I am told that this was originally a minstrel song. 

In my childhood I have heard Texas Negroes sing a stanza based 
on the slang phrase "no flies on/' meaning nothing to complain of in 
a person. I recall being shocked at their license, but I think they did 
not mean to be irreverent. 

There 's flies on me, 

There 's flies on you, 

But there ain't no flies on Jesus. 

A typical Southern picture of the old-time plantation, where the 
kitchen was in a building separate from the "big house," is given in 
a stanza contributed by Isabel Walker, of Richmond, Virginia. This 
was a favorite song of an old Negro, Laurence Newbill, now dead, 
who had been a family slave. 

Milk and de veal 
Six weeks old, 
Mice and skippers 
Gettin' mighty bold! 
Long-tailed mouse 
Wid a pail of souse, 
Skippin' frum de kitchen, 
To de white folks' house! 

This is a variant of a stanza of Keemo Kitno, a banjo song found 
in George Christy and Wood's "New Song Book/' 1864. 

The blue-tailed fly is an insect that figures in folk-song, as the fol- 
lowing, given by Mary Burnley Gwathmey, of Tidewater district, 
Virginia, attests: 

De Blue-tail Fly 

When I was young I used to wait 
On Massa an' hand him de plate, 
An' pass de bottle when he git dry 
An' bresh away de blue- tail fly. 

Chorus 

Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
Ole Massa's gone away. 



202 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



DE BLUE-TAIL FLY 



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pass de bot-tle when he git dry An' bresh a - way de blue -tail fly. 

Den arter dinner Massa sleep, 
He bid dis Nigger vigil keep; 
An' when he gwine to shut his eye, 
He tell me watch de blue-tail fly. 

Chorus 

An' when he ride in de arternoon, 
I f oiler wid a hickory broom; 
De pony being berry shy, 
When bitten by de blue-tail fly. 

Chorus 

One day he ride aroun' de farm; 
De flies so numerous dey did swarm; 
One chance to bite 'im on de thigh, 
De debble take dat blue- tail fly. 

Chorus 

De pony run, he jump an' pitch, 
An' tumble Massa in de ditch. 
He died, an' de jury wondered why; 
De verdic' was de blue-tail fly. 

Chorus 

Dey laid 'im under a 'simmon tree; 
His epitaph am dar to see : 
" Beneath dis stone I'm forced to lie, 
All by de means ob de blue- tail fly." 

Chorus 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



203 



Ole Massa gone, now let 'im rest; 
Dey say all t'ings am for de best. 
I nebber forget till de day I die, 
Ole Massa an' dat blue-tail fly. 

Chorus 

Major Beverly Douglass improvised this stanza years ago: 

If you should come in summertime 
To ole Virginia's sultry clime, 
And in de shade you chance to lie, 
You '11 soon find out dat blue-tail fly. 

Chorus 

Garnett Eskew, of West Virginia, sang some of it in a different 
way, as: 

I won't forgit till de day I die 

How Master rode de blue-tail fly. 
Dat pony r'ar, dat pony kick, 

An' flinged old Master in de ditch. 

These illustrate variants on the minstrel song, Jim Crack Corn, 
found in "The Negro Melodist/' 1857, and elsewhere. 

Even the mosquito has its song, as that sung by the Louisiana 
Negroes in the Creole patois, contributed by Mrs. George Dynoodt, 
of New Orleans. 

LA PLUIE TOMBE 



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204 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

La pluie tombe, 
Crapeau chante, 
Oin, oin! oin, oin! oin, oin! 
M'a pale baigner moin. 
La pluie tombe, 
Marin-gouin crie, 
M'a pale noyer moin. 
La pluie tombe, 
Marin-gouin crie, 
M'a pale noyer moin. 
Oin, oin! oin, oin! oin, oin! 

This, roughly translated, says: 

The rain falls, 

The frog croaks, 

Wee- wee! wee-wee! wee-wee! 

Tells me to come into the water. 

The rain falls, 

The mosquito cries, 

Tells me to drown myself. 

Wee-wee! wee- wee! wee-wee! 

Then, of course, one recalls the boll weevil, most famous of insects, 
picaresque, determined, resourceful, which has an elaborate ballad 
all its own, The Boll Weevil, recorded in an earlier chapter of this 
volume. And there is the " bumberly-bee " that gathers honey all 
day long and " stows hit in de ground." 

One might go on indefinitely giving these folk-songs wherein the 
Negro intimately addresses the live creatures about him, with affec- 
tionate understanding of their good points, but not blinded as to 
their shortcomings. He likes them. They interest him, and his 
poetry is of the things that honestly appeal to him, not of what he 
thinks a conventional public or white-collared editors expect him to 
praise. He may deal with his subjects impersonally, as figures in a 
universal comedy in which he is an observer. Or he may treat them 
subjectively, comparing his lot with theirs, as in the stanza I have 
heard my mother sing, and also given by May Terry Goodman, 
which will do to close with. 



SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 



205 



DEY ALL GOT A MATE BUT ME 



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gag - in' in deir hab - its, An' dey all 



got a mate but me. 



Dere 's de fox an' de hare, 

De badger an' de bear, 

An' de birds in de greenwood tree, 

An' de cunnin' little rabbits, 

All engagin' in deir habits, 

An' dey all got a mate but me. 



VIII 
WORK- SONGS 

THE Negro, by nature rhythmical, works better if he sings at his 
labor. He seems to lighten his toil, perhaps even to forget the 
fact that he is working, if he has a song to help him on. As a soldier 
can march with less fatigue if inspired by the music of a band, so a 
Negro's hoe or axe swings more easily to the beat of a ballad or the 
sighing swing of a spiritual, or any sort of song he chants at his task. 
He can work not only more pleasurably to himself, but more prof- 
itably to his employer, for he moves faster and accomplishes more 
if he sings. This is well recognized by those who employ bands of 
Negroes at various types of work, as on construction gangs, and the 
like, and the fact is taken advantage of. Singing is encouraged — 
not as an art, but as an economic factor in efficiency. Song leaders 
are chosen, formally or informally, their responsibility being to 
speed up the efforts of the workers. Sometimes these men are paid 
more than any of their comrades, and are required to do nothing 
but direct the songs. 

Frances Gilchrist Wood has told me of such methods used twenty- 
five years ago in the phosphate mines in Florida. The song leader 
would be called a "Phosphate Jesse," and all he had to do was to 
inspire the singing. Under the thrill of music, the workers would 
compete madly with each other to see who could "lay the rest out/' 
until all but one had dropped in exhaustion, almost denuded of 
clothes. Song leaders also directed the singing of Negroes in the 
turpentine camps in Florida, Mrs. Wood says. The men who worked 
at "box-chopping," or chopping the trees to let the turpentine run 
out into the boxes placed to receive it, had their own special songs. 

There is a good deal of singing in tobacco factories in the South 
to-day, but less than formerly, since machinery has been substituted 
to do what once was done by hand. In the old days, the workers 
sang in chorus at their task; and now that the roar of wheels would 
drown out their voices, in some factories the machinery is stopped 
for brief periods during the day and the toilers rest themselves by 
singing. The colored employees of the Lorillard Tobacco Company, 
of Richmond, Virginia, have a chorus of one hundred and seventy- 
five voices, and they sing the old Negro folk-songs. But in former 



WORK-SONGS 



207 



days there was much more music during work hours. Judge Diggs 
of Lynchburg, Virginia, told me that in his town there used to be a 
large number of independent tobacco factories, at which the Negro 
workers sang a great deal ; but these smaller plants have been taken 
over by a big combine, and machinery has driven out song. 

Early Busby says that the night shifts of employees at his father's 
brickyard in East Texas sang all night long at their task. 

On the big plantations of the South, certain work, as corn-shuck- 
ing, would be done by large bands of Negroes. Dr. John A. Wyeth 
told me of such occasions and the songs they called forth. On the 
old plantations there were square rail-pens for corn. The owner 
would have thousands of bushels of corn put on and then invite the 
Negroes on neighboring plantations to come in for an "infare." On 
top of the huge mound of corn the Negro leader of song would 
perch, while the others would be grouped all round the pyramid of 
yellow ears. As the workers husked, the leader would give out a 
line of song, which they would take up as a refrain. 

Oh, rock me gently, Julie! 

The refrain would come in all round, — 0-0-0-0-0 , — a low swell of 
harmony, the cadence pitched to high feeling. 



GRASSY ISLANDS 



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I 'm gwine away to leave you, 

O-o-o-o-o ! 
I 'm gwine away to the grassy islands, 

O-o-o-o-o ! 

This last would be in a more lively tune. 

The Negroes had unusual liberties on corn-shucking nights, and 
the event was one of hilarity and revelry. 

Again the leader would sing, and the others follow, with some 
couplet such as this: 

A little streak o' lean, an' a little streak o' fat, 
Ole Massa grumble ef yo' eat much o' dat! 



208 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



WORK-SONG 



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This has reference to weekly rations for a Negro on the old plant a 
tions, which were three and one-half pounds of bacon and a peck 
of meal, with vegetables grown on the place. 

Such customs have continued even in recent times. Samuel 
Derieux, of South Carolina, whose recent death was a loss to South- 
ern literature, told me of an occasion when Negroes came from miles 
around to his grandfather's plantation to shuck corn which had to 
be taken care of promptly after a fire had destroyed a big barn. The 
Negroes worked and sang all night, improvising inimitable har- 
monies from a few lines, whose words seemed nonsensical. Mr. 
Derieux said that when a gang of Negro workmen sing in unison 
they sometimes achieve extraordinary effects. He heard one gang 
of convicts working on the road, a chain-gang, singing a song of 
which he remembered only a fragment, but he recalled the mar- 
vellous part-singing and the harmonics evolved : 



CITY OF REFUGE 

Mr. Derieux could not remember the words for the first part of the tune, but only for the chorus. 



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You bet - ter run to de Cit-y of Refuge, You bet -ter run! 



WORK-SONGS 209 

Chorus 

You better run, 

You better run, 

You better run to de City of Refuge, 

You better run! 

The basses would go to impressive depths, while the tenors and bari- 
tones would curl all round the heavier tones in improvised runs and 
quavers. 

Mr. Derieux told of the singing of one Jake, who had what one 
folk-song calls "a ponstrous voice,'' and who was a famous song 
leader. Jake ran a boot-legging joint in the bushes near a certain 
" baptizing pond" in South Carolina, and when the crowds assem- 
bled for a baptizing he did a rushing business. On one occasion a 
white man who had come to attend the ceremony called Jake aside 
and requested refreshment. 

"Yessir, boss," Jake replied, "but you have to wait awhile. My 
time be baptized next. After that I 'tend to you." 

The customer was acquiescent, and so, after Jake emerged from 
the water and changed to dry clothes, he hastened to go on breaking 
the dry law. 

Mr. Derieux said that he had lived near a convict camp in South 
Carolina and gone often to listen to the prisoners sing as they 
worked. A certain band of life- termers, who had been together for a 
long time, had sung together so much that they were in fine voice, 
and had wonderful harmony of part-singing. They sang all day 
Sunday, as they had nothing else to do. 

Mr. Derieux described the iron cage that was moved about for the 
gang to sleep in at night — something like a Pullman car, only very 
different as to comfort and looks. The convicts would be chained to 
the cage on Sunday, but allowed certain freedom of movement. 
They sang all day. He vividly recalled fragments of their songs. 

O, Lawd, ain't dey rest fo' de weary one? 

One star in de east, 
One star in de west. 
And I wish dat star was in mah breast! 

Let us cross ober de ribber, 
Let us cross ober de ribber, 
Let us cross ober de ribber, 
An' rest. 



2IO NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Come across, Moses, 
Don't get lost. 

Spread yo' rod an' come across. 
Jesus, Jesus died on de cross. 

These convicts sang, while the hard-faced guards watched them 
ceaselessly and the bloodhounds lay beside them. 

Dr. Boyd, of Nashville, Tennessee, an elderly man very promi- 
nent in religious work among his race, discussed with me the various 
types of work-singing among the Negroes. He said that the music 
and the words changed in every state, and to know the reasons for 
the change one would have to know the history of industrial condi- 
tions in each locality. He said that in Virginia the singing was more 
like that of a choir. In tobacco factories there would always be a 
leader, who would lead in singing, and a marvellous sort of group- 
singing resulted. In South Carolina the work was chiefly done out of 
doors, — as in rice-fields, and so forth, — where the laborers sang 
corn-songs. In turning the water through the rice, the leader would 
start off with a song, and the other laborers would follow as they 
came up to him. In Mississippi the Negroes sang as they worked 
hoeing or picking cotton in the fields, sometimes near together and 
sometimes scattered. In Louisiana the workers in the sugar-cane 
fields varied as to their singing, the cane cutters singing one way and 
the haulers another. In Texas, which was a new country, the sing- 
ing was made up of almost all types. 

The cotton-field has heard much of this communal singing, as any 
Southerner knows. J. E. Morrow reports a scene from Texas: 

"A number of ' hands' were in a cotton patch, and they con- 
stantly sang as they went down the rows. Groups of kindred spirits 
would sing one song together, or each sing a stanza alone, as fancy 
suggested. One of the favorites was this. One of the groups in the 
cotton patch — and the fastest — had for its leader an old man. He 
was apparently tireless, or so engrossed with his singing that he 
never slacked exertion. His favorite was the first stanza in this song. 
As he sang, the others added their contribution, with the following 
composite result. 

"Would n't drive so hard but I needs de arns, 
Would n't drive so hard but I needs de arns. 
Snatchin' an' a-crammin' it in my sack, 
Gotter have some cotton if it breaks my back. 
Would n't drive so hard, but I needs de arns, 
Would n't drive so hard, but I needs de arns." 






WORK-SONGS 



211 



The workers on the sugar plantations in southern Louisiana have 
their songs, as one given me by Alvin Belden, of New Orleans. The 
"row" referred to here is the long line of young cane, though it 
might as well be a row of cotton or corn. 



ROW AFTER ROW 



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Thinkin' 'case I love you so, 

An' my heart keeps thumpin' an' a-thumpin', 

As I hoe down row after row. 



212 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Chorus 
Row after row, my baby, 
Row after row, my baby, 
Row after row, my baby, 
Row after row. 

When I think of her the rows get shorter, 
For I find my work is through; 
So I keep on a-hoein' an' a-hoein', 
Thinkin' of Miss Lindy Lou. 

Chorus 

The rhythmic possibilities of the washboard in the hands of a 
Negress are all but illimitable. There are many "rubbing songs," 
but one example, a Creole song from Louisiana given by Mrs. 
George Deynoodt and Mrs. La Rose, of New Orleans will serve. 



TOUT PITIT NEGRESSE 



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pe la - ver chi - mi - se ye' ma - ma! A, al - la, mam- 
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selle, les blanchiseuses! A, al - la, mam - selle, les blanchiseuses ! 

Tout pitit Negresse en bas bayou, 
A-pe laver chimise ye' mama ! 
A, alia, mamselle, les blanchiseuses! 
A, alia, mamselle, les blanchiseuses! 

Tout pitit Negre en bas. bayou, 
A-pe frotter culotte ye' papa ! 
A, alia, monsieur, les blanchisseurs! 
A, alia, monsieur, les blanchisseurs ! 

This says (in English) : 

A very little Negress down on the bayou 
Washing shirts, oh, mama! 
Oh, lady, the washerwomen! 
Oh, lady, the washerwomen! 



WORK-SONGS 



213 



A very little Nigger boy down on the bayou, 
Scrubbing underclothes, oh, papa! 
Oh, man, the washerman! 
Oh, man, the washerman! 

There are various occupational songs that interest the collector 
and reveal the Negro's habit of making his work something more 
than mere machine movements — characterizing it, so to speak, giv- 
ing it dramatic values. If that spirit could be carried over into all in- 
dustry and even professional work, perhaps there would be less labor 
unrest than at present. Work is dignified when it is shown to be im- 
portant enough to have a song addressed to it, when it is lyrically 
apostrophized. The Negro has little of the detached, impersonal 
attitude toward life or any aspect of it, but thinks and speaks sub- 
jectively. Even the street cries in the South are musical, as Harriet 
Kershaw Leiding has shown in her interesting booklet about 
Charleston, "Street Cries of an Old City." So, in New Orleans, the 
chimney-sweep announces himself by a weird cry, half wail and half 
chant, which can scarcely be imitated, but which is very impressive: 
Ramonee la chemine latannier! And Miss Emilie Walter has given 
me the cry of the watermelon vendor in South Carolina: "Barka- 
lingo, watermelon! Barka-lingo, watermelon!" with its musical in- 
tonations and echoing fall. 

In Texas, especially at Waco, I am told, the bootblacks sing at 
their work, songs passed from one to another, or improvisations, 
which they call " shine reels," and which serve not only to entertain 
the customer whose shoes are being polished, but to make less 
weary the waiting time for those who have not yet ascended the 
throne. The boys who black the shoes of the Baylor University 
students are, or used to be several years ago (I left Waco some years 
ago and cannot speak definitely now), adept at remembering or im- 
provising these reels. Early Busby gave me one recently that he 
recalled having heard sung at these bootblack establishments. 

SHINE REEL 



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" Where wuz you, Sweet Ma -ma, When de boat went down? 

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On de deck, Ba - by, . . Hoi - ler - in V Al - a - ba - ma boun'! 



214 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

" Where wuz you, Sweet Mama, 
When de boat went down?" 
"On de deck, Baby, 

Hollerin', 'Alabama boun'!'" 

James E. Morrow gives several of the shine reels featured by 
these singers, of which the following is an example : 

Yon'er goes my Nora, gittin' drunk ergin, 
Yon'er goes my Nora, gittin' drunk ergin. 

Oh, Miss Sudie! 

She 's got good booty, 

Di'mon' rings and fine clo'es too, 

But dat Nigger ain't gonna get 

Nothin' from me. 

Oh, dat woman can't friss me. 
Yon'er goes my Nora, gittin' drunk ergin! 

Mr. Morrow says: "The Negro who sang this song was shining my 
shoes, and when I asked him to give another verse, he stopped. A 
little substantial persuasion, however, brought forth another, which 
he timed to the strokes of his shining cloth as it was drawn across 
my shoes. 

"Another Negro boy had a different shine reel, for they all have 
something of the sort. He was shy and would sing but one. 

"I went to de ribber an' my gal went, too, 

Stepped in de boat an' de boat went through. 
Down de ribber we went, singin' an' er-huggin' an' er-kissin', 

She say, 'You can't lose me, Charlie.'" 

« 

Work-songs of the Arkansas Negroes have been collected by Mrs. 
Richard Clough Thompson, of Pine Bluff, who sends some of them 
for this volume. She gives a woodchopper's song, which must be 
impressive, intoned in the solitude of the w r oods, as the chopper 
wields his shining axe to bring down one of the big trees. The song 
of the Negro is more philosophic in its acceptance of inevitability 
than is that of the poet of Woodman, Spare That Tree, and its solemn 
tones have harmonious accompaniment in the ringing sound of the 
axe as it strikes the tree trunk. 

Woodchopper's Song 

Ole Mister Oak Tree, yo' day done cornel 

Zim-zam-zip-zoom ! 
Gwine chop you down an' cahy you home ! 

Bim-bam-biff-boom ! 






WORK-SONGS 215 

Buhds in de branches fin' anodder nes' ! 

Zim-zam-zip-zoom ! 
Ole Mister Oak Tree, he gwine to hees res' ! 

Bim-bam-biff-boom ! 

White folks callin' for day wahm wintah fiah ! 

Zim-zam-zip-zoom ! 
Lif de axe, Black Boy, hyah, hyah, hyah! 

Bim-bam-biff-boom ! 

Mrs. Thompson says: "It is difficult to represent the musical sounds 
of the refrain, which are like hissing, humming, whistling, and long- 
drawn-out crooning tones emphasized by the blows of the axe." 

Mrs. Thompson also sends a spinning-song, a favorite of the 
Negro women in the days when spinning was done at home, by hand. 

Spinning-Song 

Spin, ladies, spin all day, 
Spin, ladies, spin all day. 

Sheep shell corn, 

Rain rattles up a horn, 
Spin, ladies, spin all day, 
Spin, ladies, spin all day, 
Spin, ladies, spin all day. 

In her record of slavery days, called "When I Was a Little Girl," 
Anna Hardeman Meade gives a song that "Nervy" used, to make 
butter come, when the churning proved a long and tiresome task. 
This is in the nature of an invocation as well as an apostrophe, since 
churns may be hoodooed so effectually that the butter will never 
come unless some special means be used to lift the evil charm. 
At the old plantation Penultima Nervy used to sing : 

Come, butter, come! 
De King an' de Queen 
Is er-standin' at de gate, 
Er-waitin' for some butter 
An' a cake. 
Oh, come, butter, come! 

The pickaxe is a good musical instrument in the hands of a Negro 
man — or, at least, it serves as tuning-fork to line out the metre. 
Clare Virginia Forrest contributes this fragment of a work-song, 
which she says was sung by Negroes working on the roads in Nor- 
folk, Virginia. 



2l6 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Oh, dis pickaxe am too heavy, 
Dis pickaxe am too heavy, 
Dis pickaxe am too heavy, 

Too heavy for my strength! 

Professor Samuel Wolfe, of Columbia University, sang for me the 
following, which he heard a group of Negroes singing as they made 
a tennis court. The foreman of the gang sang the lines, and others 
gave the antiphonal "Lawd, Lawd!" This evidently originated as 
a mine song. 

I'ma minder, 
I 'm a minder, 

In de col' ground. 
Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd! 
I'm a minder, 
I 'm a minder, 

In de col' ground. 

Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd! 

The rhythmic swing of the pick and its emphatic stroke to indi- 
cate a caesura, or the end of a line, makes this group-singing an im- 
pressive thing. In the songs which follow, the dash shows the point 
at which the pick is raised or brought down, and represents an em- 
phatic Ugh! or grunt, at the end of a musical phrase. Even these 
grunts that the Negro gives are harmonious with the song, and not 
a discord, as one might suppose, the musical intonations being sur- 
prisingly varied. 

Samuel A. Derieux reported to me several work-songs, which he 
heard gangs of Negroes sing. When he was a rodman helping in 
construction works, he would hear roving Negroes sing at their con- 
struction jobs. 

WORK-SONG 



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Him and . . me-e-e Ugh! him and me! . Ugh! Him and me. . Ugh! 



WORK-SONGS 



217 



Oh, baby, — what you gwine to do? — 
Three C Railroad — done run through! 

Chorus 
Me and my pardner, — him and me! 



Him and me-e-e 
Him and me ! — 



him and me! 



Oh, baby, — what you gwine to do? — 
Seaboard Air-line — done run through! — 

Chorus 

Oh, baby, — what you gwine to do? — 
B and Railroad — done run through! — 

Chorus 

Each stanza celebrates the completion of some railroad or public 
work, so that a list of them would g;ive a history of construction 
work in the South, where these roving bands of Negroes had been 
employed. There are endless possibilities for stanza subjects, as one 
would suppose. 

Mr. Derieux said that he heard a paid gang of Negroes working on 
a road at Greenville, South Carolina, when wages were a dollar a 
day. They sang an antiphonal chant, 

Million dollars — 
Million days! — 

Dr. Oren More, of Charlotte, North Carolina, gave Miss Gulledge 
a work-song that he had heard Negroes singing in a brickyard and 
clay-pit in South Carolina, when he was ten years old. The first part 
is the same as Vve Been Working on the Railroad, and was sung by 
Negroes working with picks at what they called a "pick party." 



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O - ver my head, . . Ugh! o - ver my head. . . Ugh! 



218 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Thought I fell in — 

Thought I fell in — 

Thought I fell in — 

Over my head, 

Jay bird sat on — a 

Jay bird sat on — a 

Jay bird sat on — a 

Over my head, 



ten foot o' water, 
ten foot o' water, 
ten foot o' water, 

— over my head. - 

hick'ry limb, — 
hick'ry limb, — 
hick'ry limb, — 

— over my head. - 



Jean Feild, of Richmond, gives a work-song she has heard from 
Virginia Negroes: 

WORK-SONG 



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Ugh! Help me drive 'er, Ugh! uh, home! Ugh! 

Help me drive 'er, — 
Help me drive 'er, — 
Help me drive 'er, — uh, home! — 

Little Mary, — 
Little Mary, — 
Little Mary, — uh, home! — 

To de mountain, — 
To de mountain, — 
To de mountain, — uh, home! — 

The most famous of these work-songs is a ballad relating the 
exploits and the fate of one "John Henry." Tradition among the 
Negroes has it that the hero of this was a big, handsome Negro, a 
steel-driver on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. He did his work 
with sledge and hand-drill, and resented the intrusion of machines to 
compete with hand work. He boasted that he could work faster than 
any steam-driller, and won in the contest staged, but died as he laid 
down his triumphant hammer. 

John Harrington Cox has made a study of the origin and variants 
of this ballad, the results of which are found in his volume, "Folk- 
Songs of the South," which the Harvard University Press has just 
issued. His researches have yielded extremely valuable material, re- 



WORK-SONGS 219 

vealing the manner in which a ballad may spring into being and 
grow by accretion, while it is circulated orally over a large territory. 
Professor Cox was lucky enough even to find a photograph of John 
Henry on the scaffold. 

Lucy Dickinson Urquhart, of Lynchburg, sends this version of 
the hammer work-song. She says of it: " You know how Negroes 
working on the roads, in a quarry, or some work of that sort, all lift 
their picks or hammers together, singing, and come down together, 
letting their breath out in unison, with a sort of long grunt. Dashes 
are used here to indicate the grunts. The tune to this is the first part 
of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" 

Ef I had 'bout — fo'ty-five dollahs — 
All in goF, yas — all in gol' — 
I 'd be rich as — oP man Cahtah — 
Wealth untol', yas — wealth untol'. 

Dis oP hammah — kill John Henry — 
Kill him daid, yas — kill him daid — 
Knock de brains out — of mah pahdner — 
In his haid, yas — in his haid. 

I 'm gwine back to — South Ca'lina — 
Fah away, yas — fah away. — 
I 'm gwine see my — Esmeraldy — 
I cain't stay, no — I cain't stay. 

Mrs. Urquhart says, further: " There used to be an old salt works 
near here, where Negroes worked, stripped to the waist, raking the 
salt out of the boiling brine. They sang together after this fashion 
while they worked. But the song given above was to the accom- 
paniment of hammers." 

Wirt A. Williams, from Mississippi, sends a variant known among 
the Negroes in his state, which suggests another sort of tragedy com- 
mitted with a hammer: 

Dis is de hamma killed John Henry, 
Killed 'im daid, killed 'im daid. 
Busted de brains all outen my partner, 
In his haid, yes, in his haid. 

Ef I had 'bout forty-five dollars, 
All in gold, yes, all in gold, 
I 'd be rich as old man Cyarter, 
Wealth untold, yes, wealth untold! 



220 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Edwin Swain says that the Negroes in Florida years ago sang a 
hammer work-song which gives at least a mountain setting to the 
fatality, though it does little to clear up the mystery otherwise. 

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pard - ner — Ugh! — killed him dead — Ugh! — killed him dead. — Ugh! 

On de mountain — over yonder — 

Killed mah pardner — killed him dead — killed him dead. — 

Wid mah hammer — killed mah pardner — 

Over yonder — killed him dead — killed him dead. — 

Evelyn Cary Williams, of Lynchburg, sends a version taken down 
from the singing of Charles Calloway, of Bedford County, Virginia, 
a Negro worker on the road. 



Nine-pound Hammer 

Nine-pound hammer — 

Kill John Henry — 

But 't won't kill me, babe, — 

'Twon'tkillme! 

If I live — 
To see December — 
I 'm goin' home, love, — 
I'm goin' home. 

I 'm goin' back — 
To the red-clay country — 
That 's my home, babe, — 
That's my home. 

Joseph Turner, of Hollins, Virginia, has a variant a little more 
mixed : 

Work-Song 

Nine-pound hammer, nine-pound hammer, nine-pound hammer, 
Can't kill me, can't kill me, can't kill me; 
Nine-pound hammer can't kill me! 



WORK-SONGS 221 

Oh, my papa and my mamma think I 'm dead, think I 'm dead, 
Oh, my papa and my mamma think I'm dead! 

Who shot Ida? who shot Ida? who shot Ida 

In de laig? 
Who shot Ida? who shot Ida? who shot Ida 

In de laig? 

One wonders who was Ida, who sent a bullet her way, and what she 
had to do with John Henry. She and her wounded "laig" obscure 
the tradition here, and raise all sorts of questions. Contemporary 
legends are as fascinating and elusive as those of past centuries, and 
we are faced with various mysteries in this epic career of John 
Henry. 

Wirt A. Williams furnishes another song from Mississippi, which 
introduces John Henry as a corpse, but only to dispose of him quickly 
and pass to other problems, such as the difficulty of dealing with 
women-folk and the dangers of stealing chickens. 

John Henry's Dead 

John Henry 's dead, 
And de las' words he said, 
"Never let your honey 
Have her way." 

'Way back, 'way back, 

'Way back in Alabama, 'way back. 

"If you let her have her way, 
She '11 lead you off astray, 
Keep you in trouble 
All your days." 

'Way back, 'way back, 

'Way back in Alabama, 'way back. 

"De chickens in my sack, 
De bloodhounds on my track, 
Going to make it to my shanty 
If I can." 



'Way back, 'way back, 
'Way back in Alabama, 



'way back. 



John Henry has "died more deaths than one " in legend; for, while 
some of the songs about him represent him as expiring of a hammer, 
others show his demise to be intimately connected with a rope 



222 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



around his neck — the other end being held in the sheriff's hands. 
He is reported to have murdered another Negro over twenty-five 
cents, — or over a woman, — or over a card quarrel, and to have paid 
the penalty for it. 

Ex-Governor McCorkie of West Virginia wrote to Mr. Cox about 
Hardy: "It was about 1872 that he was in this section. This was 
before the day of steam-drills and the drill work was done by two 
powerful men who were special steel-drillers. They struck the steel 
from side to side, and sang a song they improvised as they worked." 
He also says that John Hardy (alias Henry) was the most famous 
steel-driller ever in his section, and one of the handsomest men in the 
country, "black as a kittle in hell," he was called. Such romantic 
characters present puzzlements to the law, but they lend romance to 
folk-lore, and John Henry is a very real person to the southern Negro 
who sings of him. 

Here is a hammer-song that has to do with a more ancient event 
than John Henry's untimely taking-off. It is a spiritual adapted to 
use as a work-song, for the antiphonal questions and responses mark 
the rhythmic strokes of the hammer — which tool here is given 
power of thought and speech. 



NORAH 



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Who build de ark? No - rah build it, Cut his tim - ber down. 
In the second chorus there is one extra line in beginning: 



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Well, who build de ark? No-rah build it. Hammer keep a-ringin', said,"Norah build it !" 

Then first chorus 



WORK-SONGS 



223 



Norah was a hundred and twenty years buildin' de ark of God, 
And ev'ry time his hammer ring, Norah cried, "Amen!" 

Chorus 
Well, who build de ark? 
Norah build it. 
Who build de ark? 
Norah build it. 
Who build de ark? 
Norah build it, 

Cut his timber down. 

Fust thing dat Norah done, 

Cut his timber down. 
Second thing dat Norah done, 

Hewed it all around. 

Norah was a hundred and twenty years buildin' de ark of God, 
And ev'ry time his hammer ring, Norah cried, "Amen!" 

Chorus 



Norah build it!" 



Well, who build de ark? 
Norah build it. 
Hammer keep a-ringin', said. 
Well, who build de ark? 
Norah build it. 
Who build de ark? 
Norah build it. 
Who build de ark? 
Norah build it, 

Cut his timber down. 

Some of the problems of the ante-bellum Negro with respect to his 
work are shown in his folk-songs. The pathos with which a slave 
would yearn toward the hope of ultimate freedom, freedom possible 
only upon the will of the master, and liable to be denied by circum- 
stance as well as greed, appears in variants of an old song. 

Garmet Eskew gave me the following version, which is very old: 

MY OLE MISTIS 



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My ole mis - tis prom-ised me, When she died she'd set me 



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free. But now ole mis- tis dead an' gone, An' lef ole Sam - bo hoe -in' corn. 



224 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

My ole mistis promised me, 

When she died she 'd set me free. 
But now ole mistis dead an* gone, 



Chorus 
Oh, Johnny, get de hoecake, my dear, 
Oh, Johnny, get de hoecake. 

My ole marster promised me 

When he died he 'd set me free. 
But he libed so long an' died so po', 

He lef ole Sambo hoein' de same old row. 

This tune is like I Am Coming to the Cross. Which came first? 

Lucy Dickinson Urquhart sends this one that her grandmother 
used to sing, as she learned it from the slaves. Here the chorus of 
The Blue-tailed Fly comes in, as it has a habit of doing, bobbing up in 
places where it does not belong. 

My ol' master promised me 

When he died he 'd set me free. 
Now ol' master dead and gone 

An' lef ' dis Nigger a-hoein' up corn. 

Chorus 
Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
Jim crack corn, I don't care, 
01' massa 's gone away. 

My ol' missis promised me 

When she died she 'd set me free. 
Done lived along twel her head got bald, 

Don't believe ol' missis gwine to die at all. 

Chorus 

In this version and the one given next, the old darky is nameless; 
he voices anonymous woes, none the less poignant because not spe- 
cifically related to a name and place. The other is one that Mr. 
Bartlett sings, calling it Po' Mona. 

My ole misitis said to me, 

"When I die I'se goin' to set you free." 
Teeth fell out and her haid got bald, 

Clean lost the notion of dyin' at all! 






WORK-SONGS 225 

Chorus 
Po' Mona, you shall be free, 
Gooba-looba, Nigger, you shall be free. 
Keep a-shoutin', Nigger, you shall be free, 
When the good Lawd sets you free. 

Some folks say that Niggers don't steal, 

But — I found three in my cornfield; 
One had a shovel and one had a bell, 

And t'other little Nigger went runnin' like 

Chorus 

A more proper version of the last two lines runs: 

One had a shovel and one had a hoe, 

And if that ain't stealin', well, I don't know! 

Chorus 

If you want to go to Heb'n, I tell you what to do, 

Jes' grease yo' feet with mutton soo'. 
When the devil gets after you with them greasy hands, 

Jes' slip right over in the Promised Lan' ! 

Chorus 

Mrs. Bartlett says: "I suppose 'Mona' should be more correctly 
1 Mourner,' but I spell phonetically." 

John Trotwood Moore, of Nashville, librarian of the State Li- 
brary of Tennessee, contributes a slightly different stanza, wherein 
the victim of fate appears as one Bre'r Washington. 

My ole marster promised me 

Ef I broke de record he 'd set me free. 

My ole marster dead and gone, 

He lef Bre'r Washington hillin' up corn. 

A somewhat sentimentalized reflection of slavery, stressing both 
work and food as the Negro viewed them, is in an old-time song sent 
in by Mrs. Bartlett, in the old days. Virginia, it will be remem- 
bered, was considered a happier, more considerate setting for slavery 
than certain other states. To be sold from Virginia and taken " down 
south" was considered a cruel blow. 

'Way Down in Ole Virginia 

'Way down in ole Virginia 
Where I was bred and born, 
On the sunny side of that country 
I used to hoe the corn. 



226 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Like childhood's happy moments, 
When I was going away, 
I strayed away from the old place, 
And I could n't stay away ! 

Chorus 
And I could n't, 
And I would n't, 
And I could n't stay away! 
And I could n't, 
And I would n't, 
And I could n't stay away! 

Well, my ole mistis, she was good and kind, 

She was good and kind to me. 

She fed me awful good meat and bread 

And sometimes hominy. 

Well, my ole mistis, she was good and kind, 

She was good and kind to me. 

She fed me awful good meat and bread 

And sometimes hominy. 

Chorus 

Well, my ole master, he was good and kind, 

He was good and kind to me. 

He fed me awful good meat and bread 

And sometimes hominy. 

Well, my ole master, he was good and kind, 

He was good and kind to me. 

He fed me awful good meat and bread 

And sometimes hominy. 

Chorus 

Judge W. R. Boyd, of Texas, remembers much of the slave-life in 
the South, and recalls vividly the songs the Negroes on the planta- 
tions used to sing, not only at their labor, but as they went to and 
from their work. For instance, he says that the slaves used to give a 
peculiar singing call, something between a yodel and a chant, as they 
went to their work in the early morning. My mother also has told 
me of this, and has spoken of its weird, uncanny effect of eerie, re- 
mote pathos. 

Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! 

Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! 

Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! 

Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! Hoo ah hoo ! 



WORK-SONGS 227 

Judge Boyd says that about sunset the Negroes on the plantation, 
before the war, would sing as follows: 

Oh, Miss Liza, oh, mah darlin' ! — hoo ah hoo ! 
Gwine away to leave you — hoo ah hoo ! 
Gwine away to-morrow — hoo ah hoo ! 
Ain't you mighty sorry? — hoo ah hoo! 

Oh, Miss Liza, oh, mah honey! — hoo ah hoo! 
Comin' back to see you — hoo ah hoo ! 
Won't you be mah honey? — hoo ah hoo ! 
Gives you all mah money — hoo ah hoo! 

Oh, Miss Liza, oh, mah lovie ! — hoo ah hoo ! 
Don't you know ah lub you? — hoo ah hoo! 
Come to me, mah baby ! — hoo ah hoo ! 
Don't you want to marry? — hoo ah hoo! 

Freedom as well as slavery has its perplexities and complications, 
and work has not become rosy for the Negro now, simply because he 
is paid wages instead of clothes and keep. He works for somebody 
else much as he did in earlier times, if his folk-songs are to be be- 
lieved. Howard Odum gives a song in the Journal of American Folk- 
lore, illustrating this aspect of the Negro's life. 

Ain't It Hard to Be a Nigger? 

Well, it makes no difference 

How you make out yo' time, 
White man sho' bring a 

Nigger out behin'. 

Chorus 
Ain't it hard, ain't it hard, 
Ain't it hard to be a Nigger, Nigger, Nigger? 
Ain't it hard, ain't it hard? 
For you can't git yo' money when it's due. 

Nigger an' white man 

Playin' seven-up, 
Nigger win de money, 

Skeered to pick 'em up. 

if a Nigger git 'rested 

An' can't pay his fine, 
Dey sho' send him out 

To de county gang. 



228 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

A Nigger went to a white man, 

An' asked him for work; 
White man told de Nigger, 

" Yes, git out o' yo' shirt." 

Nigger got out o' his shirt, 

An' went to work; 
When pay-day come, 

White man say he ain't work 'miff. 

If you work all de week, 

An' work all de time, 
White man sho' to bring 

Nigger out behin'. 

A Negro at J. H. Williams's gin at Natchez, Louisiana, was over- 
heard singing to himself as he looked at a bale of cotton: 

Here sits de woodpecker 

Learning how to figger, 
All for de white man 

And nothing for de Nigger! 

A similar sentiment of ironic comparison is expressed in an old 
song sent me by Judge Boyd, who says that it was sung by slaves 
before the war. 

Monday mornin' 'way 'fo' day, 
White folks got me gwine. 
Sad'day night when de sun go down, 
True lub in my mind. 

Chorus 

Oh, ho, Miss Mary, oh, ho, mah darlin', 
Hi, hi, Miss Mary, oh, ho, mah honey! 

Little bees suck de blossoms, 

Big bees eats de honey. 
Niggers make de cotton an' corn, 

White folks 'ceive de money. 

Chorus 

Certain reactions to the hardships of labor as the black man sees 
them are in a song given by Mary Lee Thurman, of Washington, 
through the courtesy of Mary Boyd, of Richmond. 



WORK-SONGS 229 

Hear dem Bells! 

All day I works in de cotton an' de corn, 
My feet and my hands are sore, 
Waiting for Gabriel to blow his horn, 
So I won't have to work any more. 

Chorus 
Hear dem bells — oh, don't you hear dem bells? 
Dey 's ringing out de glory of de dawn. 
Hear dem bells — oh, don't you hear dem bells? 
Dey's ringing out de glory of de dawn. 

I sings an' I shouts wid all my might 
To drive away de cold; 
An' de bells keep a-ringin' in de gospel light, 
Tell de story of de Lamb is told. 

Chorus 

I goes to church in de early morn, 
De birds all a-settin' in de tree, 
Sometimes my clothes gets very much worn, 
'Case I wear dem out at de knee. 

Chorus 

The darky in the song fragment sent me by Mrs. Cammilla Brea- 
zeale, of Louisiana, was evidently in a mournful and resentful mood. 
His razor sounds alarmingly bellicose. 

Workin' on de levee, 

Yes, I am, 
Wid my razor in my hand. 
Don't love nobody — 

Nobody loves me. 

The Negro is considered to be temperamentally indifferent to the 
value of time, evidently feeling with Browning that time is for dogs 
and apes — and, he might add, white folks. He has eternity. Yet 
he on occasion feels a sense of the importance of passing hours, as 
in the stanza given by Betty Jones (through the courtesy of Profes- 
sor J. C. Metcalfe, of the University of Virginia), where he looks 
at his watch — the sun. 

Look at the sun, 

See how he run — 

God Almighty '11 catch you 

With your work undone! 



230 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



The Negro is not eager to work overtime, as a song heard by Pro- 
fessor W. H. Thomas, and included in a paper read before the Texas 
Folk-lore Society, will attest. Professor Thomas calls this the 
Skinner's Song. "Skinner is the vernacular for teamster. The 
Negro seldom carries a watch, but still uses the sun as a chronom- 
eter; a watch would be too suggestive of regularity. Picture to 
yourself several Negroes working on a levee as teamsters. About 
five o'clock you would hear this: 



SKINNER'S SONG 



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looked at de sun and de sun looked high, 



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looked at de Cap'n and he wunk his eye; And he wunk his eye, and he 



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wunk his eye, I looked at de Cap'n and he wunk his eye. 



"I looked at de sun and de sun looked high, 
I looked at de Cap'n and he wunk his eye; 
And he wunk his eye, and he wunk his eye, 
I looked at de Cap'n and he wunk his eye. 

"I looked at de sun and de sun looked red, 
I looked at de Cap'n and he turned his head; 
And he turned his head, and he turned his head, 
I looked at de Cap'n and he turned his head." 

The Cap'n here referred to is the boss, who must give the signal be- 
fore the Negroes can stop work for the day. 

The Cap'n and the time element are brought together in another 
song heard by Professor Thomas, the title of which is touching in its 
suggestive anxiety: Don't Let Your Watch Run Down, Cap'n! 

The struggle between love and the cruel necessities of enforced 
work are wailfully uttered in a song given by Evelyn Cary Williams, 
of Lynchburg, who took it down from the singing of Charles Callo- 
way. 



WORK-SONGS 231 



Work-Song 

Six months in jail ain't so long, baby, 

It's workin' on the county farm. 

Got my pick an' shovel now, baby, 

Yo' true lub is gone. 

Who 's gwine to be yo' true lub, baby, 

When I 'm gone? 

Who gwine to bring you chickens, honey, 

When I 'm workin' on the county farm? 

Mr. Jack Busby, in North Carolina, overheard another songster 
singing, as he ploughed, a ditty concerning the contrasts of his life : 

Hardest work I ever done 

Was ploughin' round a pine; 
Easiest work I ever done 

Was huggin' dat gal o' mine. 

J. E. Morrow, of Texas, says of another work-song he sends: "A 
convict was riding one of the mules to a road-grader. As he moved 
along he would burst into song: 

"I'se gwine to stan' 
In my back do', 
An' I 'se gwine ter hab — 
Let deDebbil blab! — 
Dat gal wid de blue dress on. 

Oh, swing dat gal wid de blue dress on, 

Swing, you Niggers, swing! 

"As he sang the last line, the team turned about, and I could not 
decide whether he was giving instructions to other drivers or whether 
that was the last of his song. Anyway, it came in with the tune and 
he sang no more." 

The tendency of workers to loaf on the job when the boss is not by 
is revealed in their song. The Negroes dearly love moments of re- 
laxation, and snatch them regardless of regulations. For example, 
Elsie Brown reports a chant which workers in Tennessee used to sing 
when — lounging idly, in the absence of the foreman — they would 
see him coming and pass the word along musically: 

Boss am comin', 
Boss am comin', 
Boss am comin'. 



232 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Mrs. Richard Clough Thompson says of an Arkansas work-song: 
"A group of Negroes had knocked off work and were idling along the 
road, when they spied their master coming, and, realizing that de- 
tection and punishment were inevitable, they began to improvise a 
song after this fashion : 

"Stan' boys, stan', 
Dah 's now no use a-runnm', 

Use a-runnin'. 
Look upon yondah hill 
An' see ol' massa comin', 

Massa comin', 

See 'im comin'. 

" Bowie knife in one hand 
An' pistol in de tother. 

Stan', boys, stan', 
Brother stan' by brother, 

Stan' by brother. 

"Oberseer wid his stick, 
Stick am comin' floppin', 

Floppin', floppin', 
Niggahs, ef you run away 
Ruckus bound to happen, 

Ruckus bound to happen. 

" At the word one of the boys fell down and the rest gathered around 
him, so that the plantation owner and his overseer arrived to find the 
Negroes carrying with mournful faces a darky boy seemingly un- 
conscious. " 

But not all the disadvantages are on the side of the colored man, 
as others of his songs suggest. The Negro is an optimist and has his 
own philosophy to comfort him. In contrasting his lot with that of 
the white man, he may have a mood to see that he is the fortunate 
one. He is less worried by income and inheritance taxes, and can 
himself perceive other advantages. At least, the Negro responsible 
for the song given me by Mrs. M. L. Riddle, of eastern Tennessee, 
felt that way abcut his life. 

I'm a Nachel-bawn Reacher 

De white man say de times is hahd, 
Nigger never worries, 'case he trust in de Lawd. 
No matter how hahd de times may be, 
Chickens never roost too high fori me. 



WORK-SONGS 



133 



I'M A NACHEL-BAWN REACHER 



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times may be, Chick-ens nev - er roost 
Chorus 



too high foh me. 



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I'm a nach - el - bawn reach - er, Jus' a nach - el - bawn 



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reach-er, Jus' a nach -el - bawn reach - er, Dat's no lie. . . 

Chorus 
I'm a nachel-bawn readier, 
Jus' a nachel-bawn readier, 
Jtis' a nachel-bawn reacher, 
Dat's no lie. 

Once I knew a man by de name of Freeze, 
Among de gals he was all de cheese. 
He was twice as frosty as his name, 
He ever lacked de letter dat never came. 

Chorus 

Alas, pore Freeze got in a fight, 
De coons drew deir razors an' carved him right. 
Dey parted his body from his breath somehow, 
It cuts no ice where he is now. 

Chorus 
I 'm a nachel-bawn freezer, 
Jus' a nachel-bawn freezer, 
Jus' a nachel-bawn freezer, 
Dat's no lie. 



234 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

The more restful aspects of colored existence are lyricized in these 
folk-songs, as well as the hardships and vicissitudes. Sometimes the 
Negro decides to strike — to leave off labor and take his ease, as in 
the outburst sent by Professor O. W. Kern, of Randolph-Macon 
Woman's College, Virginia. 

Ain't gwine to work no more, 

Labor is tiresome shore. 

Best occupation am recreation, 

Life 's mighty short, you know. 

No use to pinch an' save, 

Can't take it to your grave; 

Peter won't know if you 're rich or pore, 

So ain't gwine to work no more. 

Don't you worry, honey, ef the world goes wrong, 

Oh, baby, I love you. 
Don't you worry, honey, ef the year seems long, 

I'll be true. 
Every cloud you know must have a silver linin' 

Shinin' bright. 
Don't you mind a little trouble, 
Life is only just a bubble, 

All will come right. 

If the Negro philosophizes that all 's well in his part of the world, 
he feels he has a reason for it. The optimism of the singer of the fol- 
lowing song, sent by Professor Kern, has its explanation in the last 
stanza. Who would not feel contented if assured of devoted love and 
easy living at once? 

Dat's All Right 

Sometime soon, it ain't gwine to be long, 

My honey 's gwine to wake up, an' find me gone. 

All up an' down dis ole railroad track 

My honey 's gwine to watch for me to come back. 

Chorus 
Dat's all right, dat's all right, 
Dat's all right, babe, dat'll be all right. 
I '11 be with you right or wrong. 
When you see a good thing, shove it along. 
Dat's all right, babe, dat'll be all right. 

Went down to my honey's house, 'bout four o'clock; 
Knocked on de door, an' de door was locked. 



WORK-SONGS 235 

Turned right around an' I shook my head; 
I looked in de window, an' my honey was dead. 

Chorus 

Dere ain't no use in my workin' so hard, 
For I got a gal in de white folks' yard; 
She brings me meat an' she brings me lard, 
Dere ain't no use in my workin' so hard. 

Chorus 

Some Alabama Negroes have the same tuneful reaction to this 
situation, for Harriet Fitts contributes a song of much the same 
spirit, sung by old Aunt Maria, which even adds the consolation of 
religion to the material blessings. Truly, a comforting concept of 
life, for those who can accept it! 

Ain't No Use O' My Workin' So Hard 

Ain't no use o' my workin' so hard, darlin', 
Ain't no use o' my workin' so hard, darlin'; 
I got a gal in de white folks' yard. 
She kill a chicken, 
She bring me de wing; 
Ain't I livin' on an easy thing, 
Honey babe? 

Chorus 
Shout, you mourners, an' you shall be free, 
Shout, you mourners, an' you shall be free, 
When de good Lawd set you free. 

Nigger an' a rooster had a fight; 

Rooster knocked de Nigger clean out o' sight. 
Nigger say, " Rooster, dat's all right; 
I git you at de chicken-coop to-morrow night." 

Chorus 

In Texas, also, something of the same idea prevails, if one may 
judge from the stanza reported by Roberta Anderson. This likewise 
ends with evangelistic fervor of assurance. 

Oh, my gal's de queen o' de cards, 
She wucks down yonder in de white folks' yards, 
Brings in money every day, 
Thinks I'm wuckin', but I ain't built dat way; 
It's too hard! 

Oh, you shall be free 

When de good Lawd set you free! 



236 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

A like easy philosophy is expressed in another song of economic 
adjustments : 

Me 'n' my baby an' my baby's frien' 
Can pick mo' cotton dan a cotton gin. 
Oh, sugar babe, darlin' man! 

I got a baby an' a honey, too, 
Honey don't love me but my baby do. 
Oh, sugar babe, darlin' man! 

Boat's up de ribber an' she won't come down, 
B'lieve to mah soul she's water-boun', 
Oh, my ragtime Liza Jane! 

Me 'n' my wife an' a bob-tailed dog 
Crossed de ribber on a hollow log. 
She fell in, dog did, too. 

Middlin' er meat an' er bucket o' lard, 
I got a gal in de white folks' yard. 

I 'se er-livin' easy, God knows I 'm er-livin' high ! 

. Charles Carroll reports that twenty years ago he saw a group of 
Negro prisoners being taken to a convict farm, near Hearne, Texas, 
and heard them sing, 

I got a gal, her name is Maude, 
Lives right over in de white folks' yahd; 
Cooks dat turkey, brings me some, 
I ain't ever gwine to want for nothing. 

Surely that was optimism shown under difficulties. Maude must 
have had to exert herself to justify their belief in her, but let us hope 
she was equal to the emergency. 

Professor Thomas, of Agricultural and Mechanical College, Texas, 
has likewise heard the song of the Negro who is the equivalent for 
" squawman " with respect to material support. He calls it the Song 
of the Fortunate One. 

The reason why I don't work so hard, 

I got a gal in the white folks' yard; 

And every night about half-past eight 

I steps in through the white man's gate; 

And she brings the butter, and the bread and the lard. 

That's the reason why I don't work so hard. 



WORK-SONGS 237 

Of course, the southern housewife views such a situation less pleas- 
urably, but she is not composing folk-songs about it, so her attitude 
is negligible. 

Some races are by nature musical, while others are not. The Negro 
is instinctively a creature of rhythm and harmony, though prevented 
by circumstances and his own inertia from cultivating his talent; 
while noteworthy individuals of the present day show the possibili- 
ties of development when ambition is added to that native gift. But 
the Negro, even when he makes not the least effort to improve his 
voice, finds in it great pleasure. It can cheer his lonely hours, and en- 
liven his communal labor, not only reconciling him to the necessity 
for work, but, in a measure at least, making of that time a joy. Yet 
now he is singing less at his work than formerly — I do not know 
why. Perhaps it is because machinery has taken the place of hand 
work, and stills song with its noise, or perhaps he has come to look 
down upon the simple joy of singing and has not yet reached the ap- 
preciation of the value of that song. 

Professor Thomas, in his discussion of the plantation Negro of 
Texas and his song as he has observed them, gives an economic in- 
terpretation of this folk-singing which is interesting, though I am not 
sure that I agree with him in his conclusions. I quote some discon- 
nected sentences to suggest his ideas. 

" The class I am treating of is the semi-rural proletariat. So far as 
my observation goes, the property-holding Negro never sings. You 
see, property lends respectability, and respectability is too great a 
burden for any literature to bear, even our own. . . . 

"A great change has come into the Negro's economic life in the 
past two decades. Its causes have been two. He has come into com- 
petition with the European immigrant, whose staying qualities are 
much greater than his; and agriculture has been changing from a 
feudalistic to a capitalistic basis, which requires a greater technical 
ability than the Negro possesses. The result is that he is being 
steadily pushed into the less inviting and less secure occupations. 
. . . The Negro, then, sings, because he is losing his economic foot- 
hold. This economic insecurity has interfered most seriously with 
those two primal necessities — work and love." 



IX 
RAILROAD SONGS 

THE Negro, an imaginative being, delights to personify the 
things that enter into his life. As in his work-songs he may hold 
dialogues with his hammer or his hoe, may apostrophize the tree he 
is cutting down, or the butter in the churn, so he makes a dramatic 
figure out of such a thing as a railroad train. That appeals to him 
for various reasons. Its rhythmic turn of wheels inspires a rhythmic 
turn of phrase in a folk-song. Its regularly recurring noises are 
iambic or trochaic like the Negro's patting of foot or clapping of hand 
— not dactylic or anapaestic, like some sounds in nature, the gallop- 
ing of a horse, for example. The Negro's spontaneous songs are 
almost wholly in two-quarter or four-quarter time, rarely with the 
three syllable foot. Perhaps that instinct harks back to the beat of 
drums in jungled Africa, or perhaps it merely satisfies some in- 
explicable impulse in the Negro soul. 

The Negro has no dragon in his mythology, but he sees a modern 
one in an engine and train — a fierce creature stretching across the 
country, breathing out fiery smoke, ruthless of what comes in its 
path. It is a being diabolic and divine, or at least a superman in 
force and intelligence. It gratifies his sense of the dramatic with its 
rushing entrances and exits, as it feeds his craving for mystery, with 
its shining rails that may lead anywhere, to all imaginable adven- 
ture. The Negro, while often outwardly lethargic, is restless of 
heart ; is it because he feels that he has never found his true place in 
life? And so the engine with its dynamic energy, its fiery dissatis- 
faction, which, if ill directed, may result in dangerous explosions, 
fascinates him, and he loves to sing about it. He rides it in imagina- 
tion more often than in reality. He delights in unconventional 
methods of transportation, and he speaks with easy intimacy of 
railroad magnates, as when he sings : 

Jay Gooze said befo' he died, 
Goin' to fix his trains so 
The bums could n't ride. 

He thinks of a train as one whom he knows, sometimes a friend, 
sometimes an enemy, but always a real being. He may admire the 



RAILROAD SONGS 239 

engine's notable achievements, as in the song given by Edwin Swain, 
sung by the Negroes in Florida, and referring to a special called the 
"Alligator." 

Railroad Song 

Jes' lemme tell you whut de 'Gator done: 
Lef ' St. Louis at half-pas' one. 
'Rived Port Tampa at settin' ob de sun. 
Gee! whoo! Tearin' up some dust! 

Or if he wishes to express an idea of speed and ease of motion, he 
may compare a person's gait — perhaps actual, perhaps figurative — 
to that of his favorite train, as in the fragment reported by Professor 
W. H. Thomas, of Texas : 

Run so easy and he run so fast, 
Run just like the Aransas Pass. 
Oh, baby, take a one on me! 

The coming of a train may mean only the pleasurable excitement 
of a journey, in prospect or merely imagined, as in a fragment sung 
by Negroes in Angelina County, Texas. This, like many secular 
songs of the Negro, ends with religious enthusiasm. 

Better git yo' ticket, 
Better git yo' ticket, 
Train's a-comin'. 
Lord-ee-ee, Lord-ee-ee! 
Um-um-um-um-um-um-um-um. 

Hold your bonnet, 
Hold your shawl, 
Don't let go that waterfall. 
Shout, Sister Betsy, shout! 

The colored man may express a secret connection between himself 
and the train, as in the repetitious ditty given by Lemuel Hall, of 
Mississippi : 

Don't you leave me here, 
Don't you leave me here ! 
I 'm Alabama bound, 
I 'm Alabama bound. 

Don't you leave me here ! 
Ef you do de train don't run. 

I got a mule to ride, 

I got a mule to ride. 
Don't you leave me here ! 



240 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Or he may think of the railroad in terms of its relation to his sweet- 
heart, present or absent. A song reported by Wirt A. Williams, of 
Mississippi, shows entrancing imagination on the part of the dusky 
lover. 

Got a train in Cairo 

Sixteen coaches long; 
All I want dat train to do 
Is to fotch my gal along! 

The colored man who was heard singing by Professor Howard 
Odum was a bit more ambitious. It is feared a Soviet government 
would disapprove of his proposed exclusiveness. 

Well, I 'm goin' to buy me a little railroad of my own, 

Ain't goin' to let nobody ride it but the chocolate to the bone. 

"The chocolate to the bone" is the description of the brown- 
skinned woman with whom he is in love. 

The sheer mystery or the romantic suggestiveness that a train or 
boat possesses has a thrill for the Negro, as for everyone, of course — 
but in a greater degree for him. The hint of illimitable distances, of 
unknown objectives, of epic adventure by the way, inspires him to 
admiration — and to song. Mrs. Tom Bartlett sends a specimen 
which shows this quality. Mrs. Buie wrote out the music for it. 



THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN AND THE TO' DAY TRAIN 



$ 



B^i^=^ 



The midnight train and the 'fo' day train, Run all 



night 



Wt 



Ff 



j" 1 j r E r EE ^ r 

The mid - night train and the 



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long! 



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'fo* day train,. . Run all night long! 



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i 



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3 -L/ 



They run ... un - til the break of day. 



RAILROAD SONGS 241 

The midnight train and the 'fo' day train, 

Run all night long! 
The midnight train and the 'fo' day train, 

Run all night long! 
The midnight train and the 'fo' day train, 

Run all night long ! 

They run until the break of day. 

It's the same train that carried your mother away; 

Runs all night long. 
It's the same train that carried your mother away; 

Runs all night long. 
It's the same train that carried your mother away; 

Runs all night long. 

It runs until the break of day. 

This is another of the "family " songs, a stanza being devoted to each 
relative in turn, so that the singing can be protracted indefinitely. 

Mrs. Bartlett says, "On the 'all night long,' right at 'all/ there 
occurs what the Negroes call a 'turn,' that is, a drop or a rise, either 
one — I can hardly describe it, but I am sure you are familiar with 
the change they make so often from a very high tone to a very deep, 
throaty tone. It is very pretty, and familiar to everyone who has 
heard Negroes sing." 

The train may come in as cruel enginery of fate, to part a Negro 
from his beloved : a shining sword of fire, to cut the ties that bind one 
dark heart to another. The rails are steel, indeed, when the lover 
stands beside them and sees a train that leaves him behind but 
snatches away his "honey babe." Louise Garwood, of Houston, 
Texas, reports the tuneful grief experienced on one such occasion. 

Well, ah looked down de railroad fuh as ah could see, 
Looked down dat railroad fuh as ah could see. 
Saw mah gal a-wavin' back at me. 
Saw mah gal a-wavin' back at me. 

The Negro calls the train or the road by name, or by cabalistic 
initials, as if he were addressing an intimate friend. He omits the 
whimsical "Mister" or "Bre'er" by which he is wont to address an 
animal, and uses no honorary titles, as "Jedge" or "Colonel," 
or "Cap'n," which he confers upon a white man. 

A permanent separation is bewailed in a fragment from Texas. 
There is real poetic poignancy in this stanza, it seems to me, as 
tragedy hinted but not told in detail. 



242 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Steam from the whistle, 
Smoke from the stack, 
Going to the graveyard 
To bring my baby back. 
Oh, my li'l baby, 
Why don't you come back? 

Professor Howard W. Odum, in an illuminating article on " Folk- 
song and Folk-poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern 
Negro " (in the Journal of American Folk-lore, volume xxiv), gives 
a pathetic ditty. 

Thought I heard dat K. C. whistle blow, 
Blow lak she never blow before. 

How long has 'Frisco train been gone? 
Dat 's train carried my baby home. 

Look down de Southern road an' cry, 
Babe, look down de Southern road an' cry. 

The train may on occasion serve as witness of the grief of a folk- 
songster — may not be responsible for it, perhaps unsympathetic to- 
ward it, but be an observer of it. The headlight of an engine can see 
a great deal — has looked down on many griefs. If it wept over all 
the woes it witnesses, the tracks would be flooded. One must concede 
that a railroad track is not a soft pillow, as doubtless the " maker " of 
a song sent from New Orleans decided. Gladys Torregano, of 
Straight College, contributed this, through the courtesy of Worth 
Tuttle Hedden. 

Sweet Mama 

Sweet Mama, treetop tall, 

Won't you please turn your damper down? 

I smell hoecake burning, 

Dey done burnt some brown. 

I'm laid mah head 

On de railroad track. 

I t'ought about Mama 

An' I drugged it back. 

Sweet Mama, treetop tall, 

Won't you please turn your damper down? 

Sweet Mama is a term addressed to a lover, not a maternal parent, 
and the oblique reference to a damper doubtless comments on the 
dark lady's warm temper. 



RAILROAD SONGS 243 

The singer overheard by W. H. Thomas chanting his " railroad 
blues" had felt the thrill of Wanderlust, as suggested by a train; but 
the remembrance that he had no money for a ticket chilled him. 
Truly, to suffer from the "rolling blues" and have no wherewithal 
to appease one's spirit, is a hardship. To long for escape from loathed 
circumstance, yet have no ticket, no simple little piece of cardboard 
that is so trivial, yet indispensable, is tragedy indeed. 

Railroad Blues 

I got the blues, but I have n't got the fare, 
I got the blues, but I have n't got the fare, 

I got the blues, but I 'm too damned mean to cry. 

Some folks say the rolling blues ain't bad; 

Well, it must not 'a' been the blues my baby had. 

Oh ! where was you when the rolling mill burned down? 
On the levee camp about fifteen miles from town. 

My mother 's dead, my sister 's gone astray, 
And that is why this poor boy is here to-day. 

The train is an unfeeling observer in a couple of other songs given 
by Professor Thomas. The first is a Freudian transcript of a way- 
ward darky's desire, his picaresque ambitions, which, in truth as 
well as in this dream, are like to end in disaster. 

I dreamt last night I was walkin' around, 
I met that Nigger and I knocked her down; 
I knocked her down and I started to run, 
Till the sheriff stopped me with his Gatling gun. 

I made a good run but I run too slow, 

He landed me over in the Jericho ; 

I started to run off down the track, 

But they put me on the train and brought me back. 

I don't know what the Jericho here referred to is, but Huntsville in 
the next song is a Texas town where a penitentiary is located, so the 
allusion is quite clear. 

To Huntsville 

The jurymen found me guilty; the judge he did say, 
"This man's convicted to Huntsville, poor boy, 
For ten long years to stay." 



244 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

My mammy said, "It's a pity." My woman she did say, 
"They're taking my man to Huntsville, poor boy, 
For ten long years to stay." 

Upon that station platform we all stood waiting that day, 
Awaiting that train for Huntsville, poor boy, 
For ten long years to stay. 

The train ran into the station; the sheriff he did say, 
" Get on this train far Huntsville, poor boy, 
For ten long years to stay." 

Now if you see my Lula, please tell her for me, 
I 've done quit drinking and gambling, poor boy, 
And getting on my sprees. 

Rather a compulsory reformation, the cynical might observe; but 
perhaps the message might comfort "Lula" as indicating a change in 
mental attitude. The singer is reticent as to the nature of his offence 
against the law, but perhaps that detail seemed unimportant to 
him. 

A railroad song given by Dr. Moore, of Charlotte, North Carolina, 
reveals a "dummy line" as the object of the songster's admiration, 
personified and credited with laudable exploits, as well as the wit- 
ness of the Negro's own discomfiture. The dummy, it might be ex- 
plained, is a small train running on a short track. 

De Dummy Line 

Some folks say de Dummy don't run, 

Come an' lemme tell you what de Dummy done done: 

She lef St. Louis at half-pas' one, 

An' she rolled into Memphis at de settin' of de sun. 

Chorus 
On de Dummy line, on de Dummy line, 
I'll ride an' shine on de Dummy line. 
I'll ride an' shine an' pay my fine, 
When I ride on de Dummy, on de Dummy, Dummy line. 

I got on de Dummy, did n't have no fare; 

De conductor hollered out, "What in de world you doin' dere?" 

I jumped up an' made for de door, 

And he cracked me on de haid with a two-by-four. 

Chorus 



RAILROAD SONGS 
DE DUMMY LINE 



245 



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Some folks say de Dummy don't run, Come an' lemme tell you what de 



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Dummy done done: She lef St. Lou -is at half -pas' one, An' she 



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I 



rolled in - to Mem -phis at de set - tin' of de sun. 
Chorus 



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I 



I'll 



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de Dum - my line, on de Dum - my 



line, 



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s 



ride an' shine on de Dummy line. I'll ride an' shine an' 



gLf if j, f j | j run n\n n m 



pay my fine, When I ride on de Dummy, on de Dummy, Dummy line. 

Another, which Mrs. Bartlett and Mrs. Buie contribute, has a 
more mournful suggestiveness. Look Where de Train Done Gone 
pictures a person left desolate beside the railroad track, following 
with yearning eyes a train that vanishes in the distance. 



LOOK WHERE DE TRAIN DONE GONE 



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ISE 



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m 



Look where de train done gone,. . Look where de train done gone.. . 

Look where de train done gone, 

Look where de train done gone, 

Look where de train done gone, oh, babe, 

Gone never to return! 

Say, gal, did you ever have a friend? 
Say, gal, did you ever have a friend? 
Say, gal, did you ever have a friend? 
I has certainly been a friend to you! 



246 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Ain't got a friend in town, 

Ain't got a friend in town, 

Ain't got a friend in town, oh, babe, 

I ain't got a friend in town! 

If I had a-lissen to what my mamma said, 

If I had a-lissen to what my mamma said, 

If I had a-lissen to what my mamma said, oh, babe, 

I would n't a-been layin' round! 

I heard dat whistle when she blowed, 

I heard dat whistle when she blowed, 

I heard dat whistle when she blowed, oh, babe, 

I heard dat whistle when she blowed! 

Blowed as she never blowed before, 
Blowed as she never blowed before, 
Blowed as she never blowed before, oh, babe, 
Blowed like my babe's on board! 

I hope dat Katy train don't have a wreck, 

I hope dat Katy train don't have a wreck, 

I hope dat Katy train don't have a wreck, oh, babe, 

An' kill my darlin' babe! 

Tomorrow 's my trial day, 
Tomorrow's my trial day, 
Tomorrow 's my trial day, oh, babe, 
I wonder what the judge's goin' to say! 

If I had a-died when I was young, 
If I had a-died when I was young, 
If I had a-died when I was young, 
I would n't a-had this hard race to run! 

Mrs. Bartlett says, "Of course you know that the Negroes don't 
really say ' a-lissen' and ' a-died,' but more correctly, as far as pro- 
nunciation is concerned, it should be 'uh-lissen' and 'uh-died.' But 
that looks unintelligible to anyone unacquainted with their soft 
speech. . . . 

11 Look Where de Train Done Gone is one of the most authentic 
' blues.' The tune of the thing, as sung by the Negroes, is mournful 
enough to wring tears from the hardest-hearted. I believe I 've been 
lucky enough to get it all for you. I send it as it was sung to me by 
Lottie Barnes, who also gave me the verses for Frankie. 

" In Look Where de Train Done Gone, the first three lines are almost 
a monotone, until the mighty crescendo of the ' oh, babe ! ' is reached ! 



RAILROAD SONGS 247 

The effect is most unusual, and I wonder if any musician, even so 
experienced a one as Mrs. Buie, who wrote it down, could tran- 
scribe it correctly. I think the words are tragic enough, but as sung 
by these Negroes — ! " 

In some of his songs the Negro thinks of the railroad as a place to 
work, the setting of his experiences of daily toil. He enjoys working 
for the railroad, for it gives him a sense of suggestive distances, a 
feeling of an immediate way of escape, if flitting becomes desirable or 
necessary. He will struggle to get or hold a railroad job, as being 
less monotonous than other means of livelihood. In a stanza given 
me some years ago in Texas, the singer hints of such an effort that 
one Negro makes despite the disproportion between his size and that 
of the burden he has to lift. The tie referred to is, of course, the rail- 
road tie. The Negro is evidently working on laying out a new line or 
replacing the ties of an old one. 

Great big tie an' little bitty man, 

Lay it on if it breaks him down ! 

If it breaks him down, 

If it breaks him down, 

Lay it on if it breaks him down! 

A section-hand speaks of the difficulties of his job, in a song heard 
by Professor Thomas, of Texas, and reported by him in a paper 
read to the Folk-lore Society of Texas. Here the Negro shows his 
anxiety lest he work overtime, for he beseeches his boss, or "cap'n," 
not to lose sight of the hour, not to let him work past the stopping 
time. 

Don't Let Your Watch Run Down, Cap'n 

Working on the section, dollar and a half a day, 
Working for my Lula; getting more than pay, Cap'n, 
Getting more than pay. 

Working on the railroad, mud up to my knees, 

Working for my Lula; she's a hard ol' girl to please, Cap'n, 

She's a hard girl to please; 
So don't let your watch run down, Cap'n, 

Don't let your watch run down! 

Lula is a generic name for the black man's beloved. He disdains the 
counter terms of affection and invents his own. Readers of O. Henry 
will remember his use of a fragment of folk-song about "my Lula 
gal." This song evidently dates back to a time when wages were 
smaller than at present. 



248 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Perhaps the best-known song of this type is the familiar I've Been 
Working on the Railroad, which is sung in many parts of the South. 
I do not know anything of its origin, nor have I been able to find 
anyone who does. Hinds, Noble, and Eldridge published an arrange- 
ment of it in 1900, under the title Levee Song (why Levee?), but 
they say they know nothing of its history or traditions. It may be a 
genuine folk-song or it may, as they suggest, have originated in some 
tramp minstrel show and been taken up as a folk-song. At any rate, 
it is colorfully expressive of the life of the Negro railroad "hand" in 
the South. The words, as I give them here, were contributed by Dr. 
Blanche Colton Williams, formerly of Mississippi. 

I've Been Working on the Railroad 

I 've been working on the railroad, 

All the livelong day; 
I 've been working on the railroad 

To pass the time away. 
Don't you hear the whistles blowing, 

Rise up so early in the morn? 
Don't you hear the cap'n calling, 

" Driver, blow your horn!" ? 

Sing me a song of the city, 

(Roll them cotton bales!) 
Darky ain't half so happy 

As when he 's out of jail. 
Mobile for its oyster shells, 

Boston for its beans, 
Charleston for its cotton bales, 

But for yaller gals — New Orleans ! 

Railroad traditions in the South have their heroes, who are cele- 
brated in the Negro folk-songs. John Henry, or John Hardy, the 
famous steel-driller of West Virginia, about whom many ballads and 
work-songs have been made, is a notable example. A volume might 
be written about his legendary adventure ; and the number of songs 
he has inspired would be extensive, indeed, as John H. Cox has 
shown in his study of the subject in his recent volume, "Folk-Songs 
of the South." 

But he is not alone in this glory, for other Valhallic figures com- 
panion him in the Negro's songs — Casey Jones, Railroad Bill, Joseph 
Mica, and others rival him in the balladry of the rails. There have 
been current in the South many variants of the first, differing as to 



RAILROAD SONGS 



249 



local names, names of towns, or trains, but agreeing for the most 
part in the accident, the bravery of Casey, and the grief he left 
behind at his going. 

I learned the history of this famous ballad only recently. Irvin 
Cobb was at my home one evening when a party was assembled to 
hear some of these folk-songs sung. He told us that Casey Jones was 
written by a Negro in Memphis, Tennessee, to recount the gallant 
death of "Cayce" Jones, an engineer who came from Cayce, Ten- 
nessee. He was called that in order to distinguish him from others 
of his name and calling, there being three engineers named Jones, 
one called "Dyersburg," one "Memphis," and one "Cayce," after 
the towns they hailed from. 

Professor Odum gives the following version of Casey Jones, ac- 
cording to the Negro translation in an article spoken of before : 



CASEY JONES 



SHE 



a 1 



Ca - sey Jones . . . 

A 



was . . en 



gi - neer; 



m 



mm 



U f E 



s? 



Told his fire 

A_ 



man . 



not . . to fear, 



fc 



m 



All he want - ed was . . boil 



<tt i J^LU 



er hot; 
Refrain 



Run in Can - ton 'bout four o - 'clock. 



P ^m 



ms 



w 



L TTT TJ 



mm 



St. 



Casey Jones was engineer; 
Told his fireman not to fear, 
All he wanted was boiler hot; 
Run in Canton 'bout four o'clock. 



250 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

One Sunday mornin' it was drizzlin' rain; 
Looked down de road an' saw a train. 
Foreman says, " Let's make a jump; 
Two locomotives an' dey bound to bump." 

Casey Jones, I know him well, 
Tol' de fireman to ring de bell; 
Fireman jump an' say, " Good-bye, 
Casey Jones, you're bound to die." 

Went down to de depot track, 
Begging my honey to take me back; 
She turn round some two or three times — 
"Take you back when you learn to grind." 

Womens in Kansas all dressed in red, 
Got de news dat Casey wus dead. 
Womens in Kansas all dressed in black, 
Said, in fact, he was a crackerjack. 

The music for Casey Jones was given me by Early Busby. 

Casey had a double in Joseph Mica, or else the two are one, for 
their experiences as metrically rendered by the Negro are extremely 
similar. Names, you know, as in the case of "Franky," have a trick 
of changing nonchalantly in folk-song, so perhaps there is no real 
cause for confusion here. 

The Mica song, also given by Professor Odum in the article re- 
ferred to, belongs to Georgia and Alabama particularly. 

Joseph Mica was good engineer; 
Told his fireman not to fear, 
All he want is water'n' coal; 
Poke his head out, see drivers roll. 

Early one mornin', look like rain, 
Round de curve come passenger train, 
On powers lie ole Jim Jones, 
Good ole engineer, but daid an' gone. 

Left Atlanta an hour behin'; 
Tole his fireman to make up time, 
All he want is boiler hot; 
Run in there 'bout four o'clock. 

Railroad Bill was a villain-hero of note in the South at some time, 
if any faith is to be put in the veracity of folk-songs — a person who 
seems to have cut a wide swathe in life as he does in song. He is, in 



RAILROAD SONGS 251 

fact, like a big, wild engine himself, when, fired by "ole corn 
whiskey," he starts forth, to ride down any person or thing that in- 
terposes obstruction in his path. There is a movie rapidity of action 
and visibility of scene and characters about the stanza, for we fairly 
see Railroad Bill shooting the lights out of the brakesman's hand, 
and we see the policemen coming down the sidewalk two by two, 
" dressed in blue." We can guess at the emotional reactions of the 
brakesman, or of "ole Culpepper" — minor figures, of no interest in 
themselves, memorable in verse only because they encountered 
Railroad Bill. He it is who is the daring figure. What matter if the 
law did clutch him later on, and penalize him? He had had his glori- 
ous hour of corn whiskey and publicity. There are various Negro 
versions of Railroad Bill, the best that I have found being given by 
Professor Odum in the Journal of American Folk-lore. 

It's Lookin' fer Railroad Bill 

Railroad Bill mighty bad man, 
Shoot dem lights out o' de brakeman's hand — 
It 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Railroad Bill mighty bad man, 
Shoot the lamps all off the stan' — 
An' it 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

First on table, next on wall, 
Ole corn whiskey cause of it all — 
It 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Ole McMillan had a special train, 
When he got there wus a shower of rain — 
Wus lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Ev'ybody tole him he better turn back, 
Railroad Bill wus goin' down track — 
An' it 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Well, the policemen all dressed in blue, 
Comin' down sidewalk two by two, 
Wus lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Railroad Bill had no wife, 
Always lookin' fer somebody's life — 
An' it 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Railroad Bill was the worst ole coon, 
Killed McMillan by the light o' the moon — 
It 's lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 



252 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Ole Culpepper went up on Number Five, 
Goin' bring him back, dead or alive, 
Wus lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Standin' on a corner, did n't mean no harm, 
Policeman grab me by the arm — 
Wus lookin' fer Railroad Bill. 

Professor E. C. Per row publishes several versions of this song in 
his article, "Songs and Rhymes from the South," in the Journal of 
American Folk-lore (volume xxv). Some hint of the time when this 
song may have originated is found in the second stanza of one that 
he gives : 

Railroad Bill cut a mighty big dash, 
Killed McMillan like a lightnin' flash, 
An' he'll lay yo' po' body daown. 

Railroad Bill ride on de train, 
Tryin' to ack big, like Cuba an' Spain, 
An' he'll lay yo' po' body daown. 

Get up, ole woman, you sleepin' too late, 
Ef Railroad Bill come knockin' at yo' gate, 
He'll lay yo' po' body daown. 

Talk about yo' bill, yo' ten-dollar bill, 
But you never seen a Bill like Railroad Bill, 
An' he'll lay yo' po' body daown. 

The following is a version current among Mississippi Negroes, Pro- 
fessor Perrow says : 

Railroad Bill said before he died 
He 'd fit all the trains so the rounders could ride — 
Oh, ain't he bad, oh, the railroad man! 

Railroad Bill cut a mighty big dash, 
He killed Bill Johnson like a lightning flash — 
Oh, ain't he bad, oh, the railroad man! 

The name of the victim seems to vary, being in some sections Mc- 
Millan, and in others Bill Johnson, but he was indisputably dead 
when Railroad Bill got through with him. Whatever he was called, 
he did not answer ! 

Railroad Bill was certainly a good workman, for not only did he 
shoot out the lantern from a brakesman's hand and shoot the lights 
out of Ole McMillan, or Johnson, — or both, — but he could hit a 



RAILROAD SONGS 



253 



much smaller target as well; at least, the Mississippi Negroes so re- 
port, as Lemuel Hall tells me. 

Railroad Bill got so fine 

He shot a hole in a silver dime. 

Railroad Bill, Railroad Bill, 

Railroad Bill got sore eyes, 

An' won't eat no thin' but apple pies. 

The Negro sees in a train, not merely a temptation to travel, not 
simply a chance of a job, not only an engine of destruction or a force 
to tear him from persons he loves, not merely a witness of his joys 
and woes : he sees in it a symbol of spiritual life as well. The Negro 
is essentially religious, and his imagination is easily fired by the 
thought of eternity, the Judgment Day and the like, of destiny and 
doom. And so he frequently hitches them to his engine and starts 
another train of thought. The train may stand (or run, perhaps one 
should say) as the symbol of cheer, or of despair, according as the 
singer entertains hope of a fortunate outcome of the final testing. 

An old song sent by Lincolnia C. Morgan, one of the Fisk Jubilee 
singers, and now supervisor of music in the Negro schools of Dallas, 
Texas, is of the first type. 



THE TRAIN IS A-COMING 



^ 



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sr 



The train is a - com-ing, oh, yes ! Train is a-com - ing, oh, yes ! 



m t r u n 



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1 



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Train is a-com -ing, train is a - com-ing, Train is a-com-ing, oh, yes! 

The train is a-coming, oh, yes! 
Train is a-coming, oh, yes! 
Train is a-coming, train is a-coming, 
Train is a-coming, oh, yes! 

Better get your ticket, oh, yes! 

Better get your ticket, oh, yes! 

Better get your ticket, better get your ticket, 

Better get your ticket, oh, yes! 

King Jesus is conductor, oh, yes! 

King Jesus is conductor, oh, yes! 

King Jesus is conductor, King Jesus is conductor, 

King Jesus is conductor, oh, yes! 



254 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I'm on my way to heaven, oh, yes! 

I'm on my way to heaven, oh, yes! 

I'm on my way to heaven, I'm on my way to heaven, 

I'm on my way to heaven, oh, yes! 

She makes comment on Negro songs in general : 

" Analysis of the Negro folk-song shows a strict rhythm that is re- 
markable when we stop to consider that untutored minds with no 
musical cultivation gave them birth. There is an absence of triple 
time, due to the fact that these songs are usually accompanied with 
clapping of the hands, swaying of the body or beating of the foot. 
It is noticeable, too, that ' ti ' and ' f a ' do not often occur in these 
melodies, and there are many little 'turns' and ' curls' (which are in- 
jected by the singers in different places of the songs), which we can- 
not easily express in musical notes. 

"I happened to be one of the Fisk Jubilee singers for several 
years, travelling in this country and abroad, and being daily asso- 
ciated with two of the original Jubilee singers, who had the training 
of the company in charge. From them I gathered a great many 
ideas about the proper rendition of these songs, and I have a great 
love and appreciation for them which I can hardly express. 

"I send you two songs which I've never heard, only when my 
mother sang them to me years ago." 

A couple of songs of the " gospel train" are given as sung by the 
Negroes in South Carolina, by Emilie C. Walter. The first is in the 
gullah dialect, and is sung in the rooms of those who are dying. 
Negroes in certain rural districts share this habit of song for the dy- 
ing, with various primitive folk — a custom sympathetic in purpose, 
of course, but one wonders how often it has hurried off an invalid 
who might otherwise have pulled through ! 

De Gospel Train Am Leabin' 

De gospel train am leabin', 
An' I year um say she blow. 
Git yo' ticket ready, 
Dere's room for many a mo'. 

Git on bo'd, little chillun, 

Git on bo'd, little chillun, 

Git on bo'd [little chillun?], 

Dere's room for many a mo'. 



RAILROAD SONGS 



255 



DE GOSPEL TRAIN AM LEABIN' 



j J J J I J J J jg 



B^ 



, 


De 


gos - pel train am 


leal 


d - in', An' 


I year um say she 


y *■!■ 


h\ K 


s s 




^ h fc fc s 


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J 


- 


* J _N FN 


-te 


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-\£ 


> 










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blow. Git yo* 

f) ft N K 


tick - et read 


- y, Dere 's room for 


man - y a 


y ft is 


1 N N 


N • N N 




/T J J 


K IN 


m R 


1 L. k. 


irn « • 




J • it J 


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mo'. Git on bo'd, lit - tie chil - lun, Git on bo'd, lit - tie 



jLs-j> .M-^M 



* 



SI 



H=£ 



chil - lun, Git . . on bo'd, Dere 's room for man - y a mo'. 

In the chorus, "Oh, run, Mary, run! " in the next, we have a sug- 
gestion of the haste of one who fears to be left behind. All who have 
ever raced to catch a train know the despairful thrill that Mary must 
have felt. 

De gospel train am leaving, 

For my father's mansions. 
De gospel train am leaving, 
And we all be left behind. 

Chorus 

Oh, run, Mary, run, 

De gospel train am leaving. 

Oh, run, Mary, run, 

I want to get to heaben to-day. 

Miss Walter says that this and others of the songs she has given she 
knows from having heard her old mammy sing them. Mammy 
Judie Brown was a remarkable character in her devotion to her white 
folks and her courage. During the time of reconstruction, her young 
master was killed by the Negroes in the riots of 1876, and her own 
life was threatened by the Negroes because she went into the house 
to take care of him when he was wounded. She said she was not 
afraid "of debbil or Nigger," and remained in the house all night 
with his dead body. The Negroes had threatened to take his body 
away, and so she stayed to protect it. When she went on her mission, 
she left her little girl in the kitchen with the cook, who was so furious 



256 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

with Mammy Judie that she let the child sleep all night on the cold 
hearth. She would not put her to bed or give her any covering. But 
Mammy Judie stayed by her young master's body. 

Fear of being left behind is more openly expressed in a train song 
from McClellanville, South Carolina, sent me by Lucy Pinckney 
Rutledge. 

Keep Yore Hand upon the Chariot 

Oh, you better run, oh, you better run, 
Oh, you better run, 'fore the train done gone! 
Oh, keep yore hand upon the chariot, 
An' yore eyes upon the prize. 

For the preacher 's comin' an' he preach so bold, 
For he preach salvation from out of his soul. 
Oh, keep yore hand upon the chariot 
An' yore eyes upon the prize! 

Miss Rutledge, who sends me the words for various songs, says: 
"The true pathos and weird beauty lie in the music — and how I 
wish I might be fortunate enough to be transported to you to-night 
and sing them every one to you! In the glad days of the long ago, 
my two brothers, my sister, and I used to constitute a quartette 
that gave much pleasure to the listeners as well as ourselves. To- 
night, as I write, across the stillness of the quiet village I can hear 
sweet and haunting strains from a colored church where a con- 
vention is held, and I wish you were here to share the real delight 
with me." 

Another song from the same contributor describes a crowd of 
people left behind, in the last stanza, when the train has really gone : 

Reborn Again 

Reborn, soldier, going to reborn again, 

Oh, going to reborn again! 
Reborn soldier, going to reborn again, 

Oh, going to reborn again! 

Chorus 
Reborn again, reborn again, 

Oh, you can't get to heaven till you're reborn again! 
Oh, going to reborn again! 
Oh, you can't get to heaven till you're reborn again! 

Paul and Silas, dar in de jail; 
Oh, going to reborn again! 



RAILROAD SONGS 257 



One watch while de other pray; 
Oh, going to reborn again! 



Chorus 



Never see such a thing since I been born, 

Oh, going to reborn again! 
People keep a-coming and de train done gone, 

Oh, going to reborn again! 

Chorus 

The necessity of taking the gospel train when one has the chance is 
delicately implied in a song sung for me by Benjamin F. Vaughan, 
manager and first tenor of the Sabbath Glee Club of Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, an organization that is doing much to express the beauty of the 
old spirituals. 

The "maker" of this song felt that, since there was only one train 
on the line, one could not afford to miss it. 

Every Time I Feel the Spirit 

Chorus (whole club singing) 
Every time I feel the spirit moving in my heart, 
I will pray. 

Bass Solo 
Upon the mountain my Lord spoke. 
Out of His mouth came fire and smoke. 

(Glee club sings Chorus) 

Bass Solo 
Ain't but one train on this line, 
Runs to heaven and back again. 

(Glee club sings Chorus) 

Bass Solo 
I looked all around me and it looked so shine, 
Asked the Lord if it was all mine. 

(Glee club sings Chorus) 

A Holy Roller song sent me from Texas is specific as to the inclu- 
sion and exclusion of passengers on this important train. The list is 
rather astonishing, debarring as it does not only harlots and idola- 
ters, but " loafers." "No loafing allowed" around the celestial sta- 
tion! Nor can pipe-smokers come on — though, as nothing is said of 
cigarettes and cigars, we may suppose that they are not regarded as 



258 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

offensive. But snuff-bottles and beer-cans must be thrown away as 
being uncleanly for this train. And all is seriousness here, for no 
" joker " is permitted aboard. The Holy Roller train will perhaps not 
be overcrowded, one fancies. 

Oh, Be Ready When the Train Comes In 

We are soldiers in this blessed war, 
For Jesus we are marching on, 
With a shout and song. 

Though the Devil tries to bother and deceive us. 
Oh, be ready when the train comes in. 

Chorus 
We are sweeping on to claim the blessed promise 
Of that happy home, never more to roam, 
Where the sunlight on the hills of endless glory. 
Oh, be ready when the train comes in. 

We go into the highways and hedges; 

We will sing and pray every night and day 
Till poor sinners leave their sins to follow Jesus; 
Soon He shall come to catch away his jewels. 
Oh, be ready when the train comes in. 

We see the land of Beulah lies so plain before us, 

From that happy home never more to roam. 
We have the victory through the precious blood of Jesus. 
Oh, be ready when the train comes in. 

No harlot nor idolator, neither loafer, 

Will be counted in on this holy train; 
Nor pipe-smoker, neither joker are permitted 
On this great clean train. 

Lay aside your snuff-bottles and beer-cans, 

Lifting holy hands to that promised land, 
Preaching everywhere the everlasting gospel 
To every nation and to every man. 

Have both soul and body sanctified and holy, 
Then you live this life from sin and strife, 
Though ten thousand devils say you can't live holy. 
Oh, be ready when the train comes in. 

A vivid picture of the train coming at Judgment Day appears in a 
song sent by Mrs. Clifton Oliver, of Dadeville, Alabama. She says: 
"This is more of a chant, sung very slowly, each sentence being sung 



RAILROAD SONGS 259 

through the whole score. I've put just two sentences, to keep it 
from being so long, though they sometimes make this last almost 
an hour." 

He's Comin' This Away 

Yonder comes my Lord, 
Yonder comes my Lord; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He 's comin' this away. 
Yonder comes my Lord, 
Yonder comes my Lord; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He's comin' this away. 

Bible in His hand, 
Bible in His hand; 

A crown upon His head, 

A crown upon His head. 
Bible in His hand, 
Bible in His hand; 

A crown upon His head, 

A crown upon His head. 

He 's come to judge the world, 
He 's come to judge the world, 

Livin' an' the dead, 

Livin' an' the dead. 
He 's come to judge the world, 
He's come to judge the world, 

Livin' an' the dead, 

Livin' an' the dead. 

Looks like Judgment Day, 
Looks like Judgment Day; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He 's comin' this away. 
Looks like Judgment Day, 
Looks like Judgment Day; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He's comin' this away. 

Yonder comes that train, 
Yonder comes that train; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He's comin' this away. 



260 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Yonder comes that train, 
Yonder comes that train; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He 's comin' this away. 

My mother's on that train, 
My mother's on that train; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He 's comin' this away. 
My mother 's on that train, 
My mother's on that train; 

He 's comin' this away, 

He 's comin' this away. 

The stanzas are endless^ one being given to each member of the 
family, father, baby, sister, brother, and so forth. Mrs. Oliver says, 
"I want to sing it one way, but I've tried three darkies of the old 
school and they all drop down to C." 

A more sinister aspect of train-arrival is in another Holy Roller 
song from Texas. The little black train here represents Death, and 
the passengers for whom seats are reserved appear not to be crowding 
eagerly about the ticket- window. This train has no set schedule, but, 
like other public carriers, is uncertain in its time of arrival and de- 
parture. But a delay here brings forth no complaint against the 
management. 

The Little Black Train 

God said to Hezekiah 

In a message from on high, 
Go set thy house in order 

For thou shalt surely die. 

Chorus 

The little black train is coming, 

Get all of your business right; 
Better set your house in order, 

For the train may be here to-night! 

He turned to the wall and weeping, 

Oh ! see the king in tears. 
He got his business fixed all right, 

God spared him fifteen years. 

When Adam sinned in Eden 

Before the birth of Seth, 
That little sin brought forth a son, 

They called him conquering death. 



RAILROAD SONGS 261 

Go tell the ballroom lady, 

And filled with earthly pride, 
That death's black train is coming; 

Prepare to take a ride. 

This little black train and engine 

And little baggage-car, 
With idle thoughts and wicked deeds, 

Must stop at the judgment bar. 

A poor young man in darkness 

Cared not for the gospel light, 
Until suddenly the whistle blew 

From the little black train in sight! 

"Oh! death, will you not spare me? 
I 've just seen my wicked plight. 
Have mercy, Lord, do hear me, 

Please come and help me get right." 

But death had fixed his shackles 

About his soul so tight, 
Before he got his business fixed 

The train rolled in that night. 

The rich fool in his granary said, 

"I have no future fears; 
Going to build my barns a little larger 

And live for many years. 

" I now have plenty of money, 
I expect to take my ease, 
My barns are over-running; 

No one but self here to please." 

But while he stood there planning, 

The God of power and might 
Said, "Rich fool, to judgment come; 

Thy soul must be there to-night!" 

The Holy Rollers introduce impressive imagery into their songs, 
as in the one called The Funeral Train, and the directness of accusa- 
tion is calculated to make attending " sinners" rather uncomfort- 
able. This is reported as sung by Brother Josh Gray, but the serious- 
ness of the language leads one to believe that there was no " joshing," 
about the fate of those on board that train. 



262 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

The Funeral Train 

The funeral train is coming, I know it's going to slack, 

For the passengers all are crying and the train is creped in black. 

Chorus 
You belong to that funeral train, 
You belong to that funeral train, 
You belong to that funeral train, 
Oh, sinner, why don't you pray? 

Yes, when I get up to heaven with God, I 'm going to remain 
Where death can never enter, and there won't be no funeral train. 

Chorus 

My friends, I want to tell you that you ought to try to pray, 
For the funeral train is coming to take somebody away. 

Chorus 

This train that I am singing about has neither whistle nor bell, 
But when you reach your station it will either be Heaven or Hell. 

Chorus 

There are many other railroad songs that might be given, but 
these are enough to illustrate the fondness the Negro feels for the 
track and the train. He seems to have overlooked the automobile in 
his folk-song, for I have found no instance of the auto-motive in any 
song. Perhaps that is because, in general, he has less intimacy with 
it — though now many Negroes drive cars for others, or possess 
their own. But Professor Thomas suggests that property-owning 
Negroes do not sing. 

However that may be, at least we know that the colored man loves 
a train. He not only sings about it, but in his music imitates its 
rhythmic movement and its noise. Professor Odum has expressed 
this vividly in his article in the Journal of American Folk-lore, from 
which I again quote by permission of author and editor. The Negro 
can make his guitar or banjo, which he calls a "box," sound just like 
a train. 

Of these train songs, Professor Odum says: 

"This imitation is done by the rapid running of the fingers along 
the strings, and by the playing of successive chords with a regularity 
that makes a sound similar to that of a moving train. The train 
is made to whistle by a prolonged and consecutive striking of the 
strings, while the bell rings with the striking of a single string. As 
the Negroes imagine themselves observing the train, or riding, the 



RAILROAD SONGS 263 

fervor of the occasion is increased, and when ' she blows for the sta- 
tion/ the exclamations may be heard: 'Lawd, God, she's a-runnin' 
now!' or, 'Sho God railroading' or others of a similar nature. The 
train 'pulls out' from the station, passes the road-crossings, goes up 
grade, down grade, blows for the crossing, meets the ' express ' and 
the mail-train, blows for the side-track, rings the bell — the wheels 
are heard rolling on the track and crossing the joints in the rails. If 
the song is instrumental, only the man at the guitar announces the 
several states of the run. If the song is of words, the words are made 
to heighten the imagination, and between the stanzas there is ample 
time to picture the train and its occupants." 



X 
BLUES 

THERE are fashions in music as in anything else, and folk-song 
presents no exception to the rule. For the last several years the 
most popular type of Negro song has been that peculiar, barbaric 
sort of melody called " blues," with its irregular rhythm, its lagging 
briskness, its mournful liveliness of tone. It has a jerky tempo, as of 
a cripple dancing because of some irresistible impulse. A " blues" 
(or does one say a "blue"? What is the grammar of the thing?) 
likes to end its stanza abruptly, leaving the listener expectant for 
more — though, of course, there is no fixed law about it. One could 
scarcely imagine a convention of any kind in connection with this 
Negroid free music. It is partial to the three-line stanza instead of 
the customary one of four or more, though not insisting on it, and it 
ends with a high note that has the effect of incompleteness. The 
close of a stanza comes with a shock like the whip-crack surprise at 
the end of an O. Henry story, for instance — a cheap trick, but 
effective as a novelty. It sings of themes remote from those of the 
old spirituals, and its incompleteness of stanza makes the listener 
gasp, and perhaps fancy that the censor had deleted the other line. 

Blues, being widely published as sheet music in the North as well 
as the South, and sung in vaudeville everywhere, would seem to have 
little relation to authentic folk-music of the Negroes. One might 
imagine this tinge of blue to the black music to be an artificial color- 
ing — printer's ink, in fact. But in studying the question, I had a 
feeling that it was more or less connected with Negro folk-song, and 
I tried to trace it back to its origin. 

Negroes and white people in the South referred me to W. C. 
Handy as the man who had put the blueing in the blues; but how to 
locate him was a problem. He had started this indigo music in 
Memphis, it appeared, but was there no longer. I heard of him as 
having been in Chicago, and in Philadelphia, and at last as being in 
New York. Inquiries from musicians brought out the fact that 
Handy was manager of a music-publishing company, of which he 
is part-owner (Pace and Handy) ; and so my collaborator, Ola Lee 



BLUES 265 

Gulledge, and I went to see him at his place of business, one of those 
old brown stone-houses fronting on West 46th Street. 

To my question, "Have blues any relation to Negro folk-song?'' 
Handy replied instantly : 

" Yes — they are folk-music." 

"Do you mean in the sense that a song is taken up by many sing- 
ers, who change and adapt it and add to it in accordance with their 
own mood? " I asked. "That constitutes communal singing, in part, 
at least." 

" I mean that and more," he responded. " That is true, of course, 
of the blues, as I '11 illustrate a little later. But blues are folk-songs in 
more ways than that. They are essentially racial, the ones that are 
genuine, — though since they became the fashion many blues have 
been written that are not Negro in character, — and they have a 
basis in older folk-song." 

"A general or a specific basis?" I wished to know. 

" Specific," he answered. " Each one of my blues is based on some 
old Negro song of the South, some folk-song that I heard from my 
mammy when I was a child. Something that sticks in my mind, 
that I hum to myself when I'm not thinking about it. Some old 
song that is a part of the memories of my childhood and of my race. 
I can tell you the exact song I used as a basis for any one of my blues. 
Yes, the blues that are genuine are really folk-songs." 

I expressed an interest to know of some definite instance of what 
he meant, and for answer he picked up a sheaf of music from his 
desk. 

"Here 's a thing called Joe Turner Blues /'he said. "That is written 
around an old Negro song I used to hear and play thirty or more 
years ago. In some sections it was called Going Down the River for 
Long, but in Tennessee it was always Joe Turner. Joe Turner, the 
inspiration of the song, was a brother of Pete Turner, once governor 
of Tennessee. He was an officer and he used to come to Memphis 
and get prisoners to carry them to Nashville after a Kangaroo Court. 
When the Negroes said of anyone, ' Joe Turner's been to town,' they 
meant that the person in question had been carried off handcuffed, 
to be gone no telling how long." 

I recalled a fragment of folk-song from the South which I had 
never before understood, but whose meaning was now clear enough. 

Dey tell me Joe Turner 's come to town. 
He's brought along one thousand links of chain; 
He's gwine to have one nigger for each link; 
He's gwine to have dis nigger for one link! 



266 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Handy said that in writing the Joe Turner Blues he did away with 
the prison theme and played up a love element, so that Joe Turner 
became, not the dreaded sheriff, but the absent lover. 

Here is the result as Handy sent it out, though folk-songsters over 
the South have doubtless wrought many changes in it since then: 

You'll never miss the water till the well runs dry, 

Till your well runs dry. 
You '11 never miss Joe Turner till he says good-bye. 

Sweet Babe, I 'm goin' to leave you, and the time ain't long, 

The time ain't long. 
If you don't believe I'm leavin', count the days I'm gone. 

Chorus 
You will be sorry, be sorry from your heart (uhtn), 

Sorry to your heart (uhtn), 
Some day when you and I must part. 

And every time you hear a whistle blow, 

Hear a steamboat blow, 
You '11 hate the day you lost your Joe. 

I bought a bulldog for to watch you while you sleep, 

Guard you while you sleep; 
Spent all my money, now you call Joe Turner " cheap. " 

You never 'predate the little things I do, 

Not one thing I do. 
And that 's the very reason why I 'm leaving you. 

Sometimes I feel like somethin' throwed away, 

Somethin' throwed away. 
And then I get my guitar, play the blues all day. 

Now if your heart beat like mine, it's not made of steel, 

No, 't ain't made of steel. 
And when you learn I left you, this is how you '11 feel. 

Loveless Love, which Handy calls a " blues" ballad, was, he said, 
based on an old song called Careless Love, which narrated the death 
of the son of a governor of Kentucky. It had the mythical " hun- 
dred stanzas," and was widely current in the South, especially in Ken- 
tucky, a number of years ago. Handy in his composition gives a 
general philosophy of love, instead of telling a tragic story, as the old 
song did. 

Long Gone has its foundation in another old Kentucky song, which 
tells of the efforts a certain Negro made to escape a Joe Turner who 



BLUES 267 

was pursuing him. Bloodhounds were on his trail and were coming 
perilously close, while he was dodging and doubling on his tracks in 
a desperate effort to elude them. At last he ran into an empty barrel 
that chanced to be lying on its side in his path, but quickly sprang 
out and away again. When the bloodhounds a few seconds later 
trailed him into the barrel, they were nonplussed for a while, and 
by the time they had picked up the scent again, the darky had 
escaped. 

The theme as treated in the blues is shown on the following 
page, where I reproduce by permission the sheet, like a broadside, 
on which it appears. It is interesting to note that the chorus varies 
with some verses, while it remains the same for others. 

Handy said that his blues were folk-songs also in that they have 
their origin in folk-sayings and express the racial life of the Negroes. 
" For example," he said, " the Yellow Dog Blues takes its name from 
the term the Negroes give the Yazoo Delta Railroad. Clarkesville 
colored people speak of the Yellow Dog because one day when some- 
one asked a darky what the initials Y. D. on a freight-train stood for, 
he scratched his head reflectively and answered, 'I dunno, less'n it's 
for Yellow Dog.'" Another one of his blues came from an old 
mammy's mournful complaint, "I wonder whar my good ole used- 
to-be is!" 

He says that presently he will write a blues on the idea contained 
in a monologue he overheard a Negro address to his mule on a South- 
ern street not long ago. The animal was balky, and the driver ex- 
postulated with him after this fashion : 

"G'wan dere, you mule! You ack lack you ain' want to wuck. 
Well, you is a mule, an' you got to wuck. Dat's whut you git 
fo' bein' a mule. Ef you was a 'ooman, now, I'd be wuckin' fo' 
you!" 

The St. Louis Blues, according to its author, is a composite, made 
up of racial sayings in dialect. For instance, the second stanza has 
its origin in a Negro saying, "I've got to go to see Aunt Ca'line 
Dye," meaning to get his fortune told; for at Newport there was a 
well-known fortune-teller by that name. " Got to go to Newport to 
see Aunt Ca'line Dye," meant to consult the colored oracle. 

Been to de Gypsy to get mah fortune tole, 

To de Gypsy done got mah fortune tole, 

'Cause I 'se wile about mah Jelly Roll. 

Gypsy done tole me, " Don't you wear no black." 

Yas, she done tole me, " Don't you wear no black. 

Go to St. Louis, you can win him back." 



268 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



"LONG GONE" 

Another "Casey Jones" or "Steamboat BiU" 

EVERYBODY IS SINGING 

"LONG GONE" 

With These Seven Verses 

EVENTUALLY you will sing "LONG GONE" with a hundred verses 



First Verse: 
Did you ever hear the story of Long John Dean, 
A bold bank robber from Bowling Green, 
Sent to the jailhouse yesterday. 
Late last night he made his getaway. 

Chorus: 
He's long gone from Kentucky, 
Long gone, ain't he lucky, 
Long gone and what I mean, 
He's long gone from Bowling Green. 

Second Verse: 
Long John stood on a railroad tie, 
Waiting for the freight train to come by. 
Freight train come by puffin' and flyin', 
Ought to seen Long John grabbin' the blind. 

Chorus: 
He's long gone from Kentucky, 
Long gone, ain't he lucky, 
Long gone and what I mean. 
He's long gone from Bowling Green. 

Third Verse: 

They offered a reward to bring him back, 
Even put bloodhounds on his track, 
Doggone bloodhounds lost his scent. 
Now nobody knows where Long John went 

Chorus: 
He's long gone from Kentucky, 
Long gone, ain't he lucky, 
Long gone and what I mean, 
He's long gone from Bowling Green. 



Fourth Verse : 
They caught him in Frisco and to seal his fate, 
At San Quentin they jailed him one evening late. 
But out on the ocean John did escape, 
Cause the guard forgot to close the Goldep Gate. 

Chorus: 
John's long gone from San Quentin, 
Long gone and still sprinting, 
Long gone I'm telling you, 
Shut your mouth and shut mine, too. 

Fifth Verse: 
A gang of men tried to capture Dean, 
So they chased him with a submarine, 
Dean jumped overboard grabbed the submarine, 
And made that gang catch a flyin' machine. 

Chorus: 
Now's he's long gone and still a swimmin', 
Long gone with them mermaid women, 
Long gone just like a fish. 
My that boy's got some ambish. 

Sixth Verse: 
A vamp thought she had Long John's goat, 
She took his watch and money right from his coat, 
John stole all she had now she thinks he's a riddle, 
He didn't leave her enough clothes to dust a fiddld 

Chorus: 
He's long gone from Kentucky, 
Long gone that guy is some lucky, 
Long gone from this queen, 
Long gone from Bowling Green. 



Seventh Verse: 
When pro*bition said I'll lick John Barleycorn, 
I never thought she'd do any harm, 
But she's chased him strong, didn't stop to wait, 
And blacked his eye in every state. 

Chorus: 
Now John's gone and he left me weeping. 
Long gone but only sleeping, 
But from the Drug Store we catch his breath, 
Long gone and scared to death. 

Copyright 1920— PACE & HANDY MUSIC CO., INC.. 
232 West 46th Street. New York: 



I asked Handy to tell me something of his musical experience 
before he featured this novel form of song. He said that he was from 
Florence, Alabama, and that his two grandfathers had had a better 
chance at education than most of their race — the slaves not being 
taught as a rule, and most of them being unable to read or write. He 
said simply, "My father's father and my mother's father stole an 
education." His wife, who was in the office with us, whispered to me 
in an aside, "They learned to figure in the ashes!" 



BLUES 269 

So the young boy started out with more chance than many of his 
race. He had an especial love for music, and he learned the folk- 
songs that are a part of the heritage of the old South, of the past that 
is forever gone — learned them from hearing his elders sing them, 
and he sang them till they became a part of his being. He said that 
his mother would not allow him to sing " shout" songs, but only the 
spirituals. The " shout" songs were lively religious songs intro- 
duced to give the Negroes something of the emotional thrill that 
they might have had from dancing, if that amusement had not 
been sternly forbidden in many sections. The church would hold 
" shouts," when the benches would be pushed back and a lively tune 
played, and the worshippers would march up and down and around, 
their enthusiasm growing till they were all " patting and shouting." 
There is as much difference between the "shout" songs and the 
spirituals as between the beautiful old hymns and the Billy Sunday 
type of revival song. 

He had some instruction in vocal music in the public school, 
where his teacher, a Fisk student, devoted an hour a day to practice 
in singing. Handy turned his attention to music when he left school 
and got a job with a show, and worked up, till finally he had his own 
band. 

It was in Memphis that he wrote his first blues. A three-cornered 
election for mayor was on, and one candidate, a Mr. Crump, hired 
Handy's band for election advertisement. They played a thing 
Handy wrote and called Mr. Crump, which won the enthusiasm of 
the crowd whenever it was played. (Whether it won the election for 
Mr. Crump, I do not know.) After the composer had played this un- 
published music for over two years, he offered it for publication. 
Practically every music publisher in New York turned it down, with 
the criticism that it was not correct harmonically, that it did not 
conform to musical traditions. But Handy says that he felt that it 
was a true expression of Negro life, and so he finally brought it out 
himself, calling it the Memphis Blues. It made a great hit. 

Handy said that at first he had trained his band to play only clas- 
sical music, ignoring their racial music. On one occasion, after they 
had given a concert, some other Negroes came out and asked if there 
would be any objection to their playing some of their music. He 
told them to go ahead. They had a banjo, a guitar, and a fiddle, and 
they played some of the genuine old Negro folk-songs. The audience 
cheered vigorously and threw money to them on the stage, Handy 
observing that they got more for their brief performance than he 
and his band had received for the entire concert. That set him to 



270 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

thinking of the values of the racial music of the Negroes, and he de- 
termined to develop his talents along the lines of Negro art. 

I asked him if the blues were a new musical invention, and he said, 
"No. They are essentially of our race, and our people have been 
singing like that for many years. But they have been publicly de- 
veloped and exploited in the last few years. I was the first to pub- 
lish any of them or to feature this special type by name." He 
brought out his Memphis Blues in 1910, he said. 

The fact that the blues were a form of folk-singing before Handy 
published his is corroborated by various persons who have dis- 
cussed the matter with me, and in Texas the Negroes have been 
fond of them for a long time. Early Busby, now a musician in New 
York, says that the shifts of Negroes working at his father's brick- 
yard in East Texas years ago used to sing constantly at their tasks, 
and were particularly fond of the blues. 

Handy commented on several points in connection with the blues 
— for instance, the fact that they are written, he says, all in one tone, 
but with different movements according to the time in which they 
are written. The theme of this modern folk-music is, according to 
Handy, the Negro's emotional feeling apart from the religious. As is 
well recognized, the Negro normally is a person of strong religious 
impulse, and the spirituals are famous as expressing his religious 
moods; but they do not reveal all his nature. The Negro has long- 
ings, regrets, despondencies, and hopes that affect him strongly, but 
are not connected with religion. The blues, therefore, may be said to 
voice his secular interests and emotions as sincerely as the spirituals 
do the religious ones. Handy said that the blues express the Negro's 
twofold nature, the grave and the gay, and reveal his ability to ap- 
pear the opposite of what he is. 

"Most white people think that the Negro is always cheerful and 
lively," he explained. "But he is n't, though he may seem that way 
sometimes when he is most troubled. The Negro knows the blues as 
a state of mind, and that's why this music has that name. 

"For instance: suppose I am a colored man, and my rent is due. 
It's twenty dollars, and my landlord has told me that if I don't pay 
him to-day he'll put me and my things out on the sidewalk. I 
have n't got twenty dollars, and I don't know where to get it. I 've 
been round to all my friends, and asked them to lend me that much, 
but they have n't got it, either. I have nothing I can sell or pawn. I 
have scraped together ten dollars, but that 's positively all I can get 
and that's not enough. 

"Now when I know the time has come and I can't get that twenty 



BLUES 271 

dollars, what do I do? The white man would go to his landlord, offer 
him the ten, and maybe get the time extended. But what do I do? 
I go right out and blow in that ten dollars I have and have a gay- 
time. Anybody seeing me would think I was the jollies t darky in 
town, but it's just because I'm miserable and can't help myself. 

"Now, if a Negro were making a song about an experience like 
that, it would be a genuine specimen of blues." 

Handy said that the blues were different from conventional com- 
posed music, but like primitive folk-music in that they have only 
five tones, like the folk-songs of slavery times, using the pentatonic 
scale, omitting the fourth and seventh tones. He says that while 
most blues are racial expressions of Negro life, the form has been 
imitated nowadays in songs that are not racial. While practically all 
the music publishers refused to bring out his compositions at first, 
now most of them publish blues. 

He says that the blues represent a certain stage in Negro music. 
"About forty years ago such songs as Golden Slippers were sung. 
That was written by a colored man but is not a real folk-song. At 
about that time all the songs of the Negro liked to speak of golden 
streets and give bright pictures of heaven. Then, about twenty 
years ago, the desire was all for ' coon ' songs. Now the tendency is 
toward blues. They are not, as I have said, a new thing, for they were 
sung in the South before the piano was accessible to the Negroes, 
though they were not so well known as now." 

I asked Handy to tell me something about Beal Street Blues, one of 
his best-known expressions of life in the South. 

"Beal Street is the colored thoroughfare in Memphis," he an- 
swered. "There you will find the best and the worst of the Negro 
life. There are banks there, and also saloons and dives. At the time 
the piece was written, Memphis was the most murderous city in the 
world. As the song says, 'Nothing ever closed till somebody had 
been killed.'" 

"Is that true of Memphis now?" I inquired. 

"Not so much so," he said slowly. " Since then an appeal has been 
made to the Negroes to close the saloons, and many of them com- 
plied. But the Monarch Saloon, the biggest there, is still open. It is 
owned by one of the three councilmen who control Memphis. It is 
a Negro saloon, and no white man is allowed to enter. It's caged 
about, so that no policeman can get in." 

"Do you mean that that condition exists to-day?" 

"Exactly!" he said with emphasis. 

Handy spoke of a specimen of blues he had written which shows 



272 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

something of the feeling of inequality of justice as between the black 
man and the white. He calls it Aunt H agar' s Children's Blues. "You 
know what I mean by that?" he asked. 

"Oh, yes, I remember Ishmael," I assured him. 

"I would n't wish to say anything that would reflect on my race," 
he said with a reverent pathos. "This is written to express what 
every Negro will understand, but which white people of the North 
could not. You know we sometimes speak of our race as Aunt 
Hagar's children." 

It is not often that a student of folk-songs can have such authentic 
information given as to the music in the making, for most of the 
songs are studied and their value and interest realized only long after 
those who started them on their path of song have died or been for- 
gotten. Rarely can one trace a movement in folk-song so clearly, 
and so I am grateful for the chance of talking with the man most re- 
sponsible for the blues. 

Even though specific blues may start indeed as sheet music, com- 
posed by identifiable authors, they are quickly caught up by popular 
fancy and so changed by oral transmission that one would scarcely 
recognize the relation between the originals and the final results — 
if any results ever could be considered final. Each singer adds some- 
thing of his own mood or emotion or philosophy, till the composite is 
truly a communal composition. It will be noted in this connection 
that one of the songs given above announces of itself that, while it is 
first published in seven verses, people will soon be singing it in one 
hundred verses. (Negroes ordinarily speak of a stanza as a verse.) 
The colored man appropriates his music as the white person rarely 
does. 

Blues also may spring up spontaneously, with no known origin in 
print, so far as an investigator can tell. They are found everywhere 
in the South, expressing Negro reactions to every concept of ele- 
mental life. Each town has its local blues, no aspect of life being 
without its expression in song. Here, as in much of the Negro's folk- 
song, there is sometimes little connection between the stanzas. The 
colored mind is not essentially logical, and the folk-song shows con- 
siderable lack of coherence in thought. Unrelated ideas are likely to 
be brought together, as stanzas from one song or from several may 
be put in with what the singer starts with, if they chance to have 
approximately the same number of syllables to the line. Even that 
requirement is not held to, for a Negro in his singing can crowd 
several syllables into one note, or expand one syllable to cover half- 
a-dozen notes. The exigencies of scansion worry him but slightly. 



BLUES 



273 



The Texas Negroes are especially fond of blues, and have, as I 
have said, been singing them for years, before Handy made them 
popular in print. W. P. Webb published, some years ago, in an art- 
icle in the Journal of American Folk-lore, what he called a sort of 
epic of the Negro, in effect a long specimen of blues, which the singer 
called Railroad Blues, which stuck to no one subject, even so popular 
a one as a railroad, but left the track to discuss many phases of life. 
Fragments of blues float in from every side, expressive of all con- 
ceivable aspects of the Negro's existence, economic, social, domestic, 
romantic, and so forth. 

Morton Adams Marshall sends an admirable specimen from Little 
Rock, Arkansas, — which, however, was taken down in southern 
Louisiana,- — reflecting one black man's bewilderment over the 
problems of love. 




DON* CHER LOOK AT ME, CA'LINE! 



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Don' cher look at me, Ca' - line, . . 



Don' cher look at 



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me! You done busted up many a po' nig-gah's haht, But you 



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ain't a- goin' to bust up mine! Oh, it's hahd to love, An' it's 



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might-y hahd to leave, But it's hahd- er to make up yo' mi-ind! 



Don* cher look at me, Ca'line, 

Don' cher look at me ! 

You done busted up many a po' niggah's haht, 

But you ain't a-goin' to bust up mine! 

Oh, it 's hahd to love, 

An' it's mighty hahd to leave, 

But it's hahder to make up yo' mi-ind! 

A fragment sent by Mrs. Cammilla Breazeale, of Louisiana, ex- 
presses an extreme case of depression, without assigning any cause 
for it. 



274 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



Ah got de blues, Ah got de blues, 

Ah got de blues so doggone bad; 

But Ah'm too damn mean — I can't cry! 

A good many of these fugitive songs have to do with love, always 
excuse enough for metrical melancholy when it is unrequited or mis- 
placed. Mrs. Bartlett, of Texas, sends two specimens having to do 
with romance of a perilous nature. The first one is brief, expressing 
the unhappiness felt by a " creeper," as the colored man who in- 
trudes into another's home is called. 



FOUR O'CLOCK 



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Ba-by, I can't sleep, and nei-ther can I eat; . . Round your 

Chorus 



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bed-side I'm gwine to creep. Four . . o'clock, ba - by, four o'- 



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clock, . . I'll make it in a - bout four o' - clock. 

Baby, I can't sleep, and neither can I eat; 
Round your bedside I 'm gwine to creep. 

Chorus 
Four o'clock, baby, four o'clock, 
I'll make it in about four o'clock. 



Mrs. Bartlett says of the next: " You will brand me as a shameless 
woman when you read this. I write it without a blush ; however, and 
say that I have read as bad or worse in classic verse and fiction." 

Late last night 

When the moon shone bright, 

Felt dizzy about my head. 

Rapped on my door, 

Heard my baby roar, 

"Honey, I'se gone to bed!" 

" Get up and let me in, 

'Case you know it is a sin. 

Honey, you have n't treated me right: 



BLUES 275 

I paid your big house-rent 
When you did n't have a cent." 
"Got to hunt a new home to-night!" 

Chorus 

"Baby, if you 'low me 
One more chance ! 
I 've always treated you right. 
Baby, if you 'low me 
One more chance ! 

I'm goin' to stay with you to-night! 
Baby, if you 'low me 
One more chance, 
I '11 take you to a ball in France. 
One kind favor I ask of you, 
'Low me one more chance!" 

Then this coon begin to grin, 

Hand in his pocket, 

Pulls out a ten. 

Then her eyes begin to dance, 

"Baby, Til 'low you 

One more chance!" 

My contributor adds, "Now that I have written it out, I am aware 
that there is a wide discrepancy between the first and second stanzas. 
Surely it was n't so much worse that Dr. Shaw blushed and faltered. 
I cannot account for the missing lines." 

The central character in a ditty sent by Louise Garwood, of 
Houston, Texas, advocates adoption of more bellicose methods in 
dealing with the fair dark sex. No wheedling or bribing on his part! 

Ef yore gal gits mad an' tries to bully you-u-u, 

Ef yore gal gits mad an' tries to bully you, 

Jes' take yore automatic an' shoot her through an' through, 

Jes' take yore automatic an' shoot her through an' through! 

A similar situation of a domestic nature is expressed in a song 
given by Gladys Torregano, of Straight College, New Orleans, 
through the courtesy of Worth Tuttle Hedden : 

A burly coon you know, 
Who took his clothes an' go, 
Come back las' night. 
But his wife said, "Honey, 
I'se done wid coon, 



276 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

I'se gwine to pass for white." 
This coon he look sad, 
He was afraid to look mad; 
But his wife said, "Honey, 
I can't take you back. 
You would n't work, 
So now you lost your home.' , 

Chorus 
"Don't, my little baby, 
Don't you make me go! 
I'll try an' get me a job, 
Ef you '11 'low me a show. 
All crap-shooters 
I will shun. 

When you buy chicken, 
All I want is the bone; 
When you buy beer, 
I '11 be satisfy with the foam. 
I '11 work both night and day, 
I '11 be careful of what I say, 
Oh, Baby, let me bring my clothes back home ! 

"Oh, Baby, 'low me a chance! 
You can even wear my pants. 
Don't you give me the sack. 
I '11 be quiet as a mouse 
All round the house. 
Ef you '11 take me back, 
Tell the world I ain't shook, 
I'll even be the cook. 
I won't refuse to go out in the snow." 
"Don't you tell, my little inkstand, 
Life dreaming is over. 
So there 's the door, 
And don't you come back no more!" 

Mrs. Bar tie tt contributes another that describes the woes of unre- 
quited love, which, she says, was sung by a colored maid she had 
some years ago : 

Ships in de oceans, 

Rocks in de sea, 

Blond-headed woman 

Made a fool out of me! 

Oh, tell me how long 

I'll have to wait! 

Oh, tell me, Honey, 

Don't hesitate! 



BLUES 



277 



I ain't no doctor, 
Nor no doctor's son, 
But I can cool your fever 
Till de doctor comes. 
Oh, tell me how long 
I'll have to wait! 
Oh, tell me, honey, 
Don't hesitate! 

I got a woman, 
She's long and tall; 
Sits in her kitchen 
With her feet in de hall! 
Oh, tell me how long 
I '11 have to wait! 
Oh, tell me, honey, 
Don't hesitate! 

A brief song from Texas uses rather vigorous metaphors in ad- 
dressing someone. 



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OH, HO, BABY, TAKE A ONE ON ME! 



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You keep on a - talk -in' till you make a - me think Your 



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dad - dy was a bull - dog, your mam - my was a mink. 



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Oh, ho, Ba - by, take a one on me! . . . 



You keep on a-talkin' till you make a-me think 
Your daddy was a bulldog, your mammy was a mink. 
Oh, ho, Baby, take a one on me! 

You keep a-talkin' till you make me mad, 
I'll talk about your mammy mighty scandalous bad. 
Oh, ho, Baby, take a one on me! 

Whifhn' coke is mighty bad, 
But that's a habit I never had. 

Oh, ho, Baby, take a one on me! 



278 



NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 



A Negro lover does not sonnet his sweetheart's eyebrows, but he 
addresses other rhymes to her charms, as in the blues reported by 
Professor W. H. Thomas, of Texas. 

A BROWN-SKINNED WOMAN 



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9 



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" 5t 5t -—• 

A brown-skinned wo - man and she's choc'late to de bone. 

A brown-skinned woman and she's choc'late to de bone. 

A brown-skinned woman and she smells like toilet soap. 

A black-skinned woman and she smells like a billy-goat. 

A brown-skinned woman makes a freight- train slip and slide. 

A brown-skinned woman makes an engine stop and blow. 

A brown-skinned woman makes a bulldog break his chain. 

A brown-skinned woman makes a preacher lay his Bible down. 

I married a woman; she was even tailor-made. 

The colored man in a song sent by Mrs. Buie, of Marlin, Texas, 
obviously has reason for his lowness of spirits. Po> Li'l Ella is a 
favorite in East Texas sawmill districts. 



PO' LIT ELLA 



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I'll tell you somep'n that bothers my mind: 



Po' li'l 



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Ella laid down and died. 



I '11 tell you somep'n that 




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bothers my mind: 



Po' li'l Ella laid down and died. 



I'll tell you somep'n that bothers my mind: 
Po' li'l Ella laid down and died. 
I'll tell you somep'n that bothers my mind: 
Po' li'l Ella laid down and died. 

I would n't 'a' minded little Ella dyin', 
But she left three chillun. 
I would n't 'a' minded little Ella dyin', 
But she left three chillun. 



BLUES 



279 



Judge, you done me wrong, — 
Ninety-nine years is sho' too long! 
Judge, oh, Judge, you done me wrong, — 
Ninety-nine years is sho' too long! 

Come to think of it, it is rather long! 

Howard Snyder heard one of the workers on his plantation in 
Mississippi singing the following song, which could not be called 
entirely a paean in praise of life : 

I Wish I Had Someone to Call My Own 

I wish I had someone to call my own; 
I wish I had someone to take my care. 

I'm tired of coffee and I'm tired of tea; 
I'm tired of you, an' you're tired of me. 

I'm tired of livin' an' I don't want to die; 
I'm tired of workin', but I can't fly. 

I'm so tired of livin' I don't know what to do; 
You're tired of me, an' I'm tired of you. 

I'm tired of eatin' an' I'm tired of sleepin'; 

I'm tired of yore beatin' an' I'm tired of yore creepin'. 

I'm so tired of livin' I don't know what to do; 
I'm so tired of givin' an' I've done done my do. 

I've done done my do, an' I can't do no mo'; 
I 've got no money an' I 've got no hoe. 

I'm so tired of livin' I don't know what to do; 
You're tired of me, an' I'm tired of you. 

Other interests of the colored man's life besides love are shown in a 
song reported by Professor Thomas, of Texas. Note the naive con- 
fusion of figures in the first stanza, "a hard card to roll. " 



JACK O' DIAMONDS 



SF^ 



—9 — — 

Jack o' 



Dia 



monds, Jack o' Dia - monds, Jack o' 




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Dia - monds is 



hard 



card to 



280 NEGRO FOLK-SONGS 

Jack o' Diamonds, Jack o' Diamonds, 
Jack o' Diamonds is a hard card to roll. 

Says, whenever I gets in jail, 
Jack o' Diamonds goes my bail; 
And I never, Lord, I never, 
Lord, I never was so hard up before. 

You may work me in the winter, 

You may work me in the fall; 

I'll get even, I'll get even, 

I '11 get even through that long summer's day. 

Jack o' Diamonds took my money, 
And the piker got my clothes; 
And I ne-ever, and I ne-ever, 
Lord, I never was so hard-run before! 

Says, whenever I gets in jail, 

I'se got a Cap'n goes my bail; 

And a Lu-ula, and a Lu-ula, 

And a Lula that's a hard-working chile! 

And so the blues go on, singing of all conceivable interests of the 
Negro, apart from his religion, which is adequately taken care of in 
his spirituals and other religious songs. These fleeting informal 
stanzas, rhymed or in free verse that might tit in with the most lib- 
erate of vers-libertine schools of poetry, these tunes that are haunt- 
ing and yet elusive, that linger in the mind's ear, but are difficult to 
capture within bars, have a robust vitality lacking in more sophisti- 
cated metrical movements. One specimen of blues speaks of its own 
tune, saying " the devil brought it but the Lord sent it." At least, it 
is here and has its own interest, both as music and as a sociological 
manifestation. Politicians and statesmen and students of political 
economy who discuss the Negro problems in perplexed, authorita- 
tive fashion, would do well to study the folk-music of the colored 
race as expressing the feelings and desires, not revealed in direct 
message to the whites. Folk-poetry and folk-song express the heart 
of any people, and the friends of the Negro see in his various types of 
racial song both the best and the worst of his life. 



AFTERWORD 

I HATE to say good-bye to this book. Writing the last words in it 
would be a downright grief, if it were not for the fact that I am 
planning several — oh, perhaps many! — more volumes on Negro 
folk-songs, and am already deep in the material for them. There is 
so much fascinating stuff that could not be crowded into this col- 
lection, that I had to begin on the other groupings before these pages 
were finished. I shall be tremendously grateful to any reader of this 
book who will send me the words, or music, or both, of any song he 
may know or may be energetic enough to chase down. I recommend 
the pursuit of songs as a reducing exercise — and high good fun in 
the bargain. One may get a song almost anywhere, under any cir- 
cumstances, if he is in earnest about it. I persuaded Arthur Guiter- 
man to chant softly for me a folk-song at a dignified dinner of the 
Poetry Society once, while I caught it on the menu card. A few 
weeks ago I enjoyed a tuneful musical comedy with William Alexan- 
der Percy, but the songs I heard between acts were better still, 
Negro songs that Mr. Percy sang quietly, for me to take down on a 
programme. Cale Young Rice gave me one in an aside at a dinner 
at the Columbia Faculty Club one evening. I met DuBose and 
Dorothy Hey wood at tea at Hervey Allen's this spring, when they 
mentioned a rare specimen of Gullah dialect picked up in Charleston 
— the chant of "OP Egypt a-yowlin' " howling in a lonesome grave- 
yard. I begged to hear it, of course. They were modestly reluctant 
to howl in public at a tea, but they at last consented. It was extra- 
ordinary. 

I have learned that you must snatch a song when you hear of it, 
for if you let the singer get away, the opportunity is gone. He will 
promise to write it down for you later, but that "later" rarely 
comes. Meanwhile, he is subject to all the chances of a perilous 
world, where he may be killed on any street corner, taking the song 
with him. No, the instant present is the only surety. Songs die, too, 
as well as people, so that the only surety of life extension is to write 
them down at once. 

I hope that I may some time spend a sabbatical year loitering 
down through the South on the trail of more Negro folk-songs, be- 
fore the material vanishes forever, killed by the Victrola, the radio, 



282 AFTERWORD 

the lure of cheap printed music. I envy the leisured rich who could 
take such a tour — yet never do. Why does not some millionaire 
endow a folk-song research? Surely the world would sing his praises ! 

I wish that more of our colleges and universities would take active 
interest in folk-song. Harvard has done more than any institution 
to encourage research, and the preservation of folk-lore among us, 
and it is impossible to estimate the debt that we owe to Professor 
Kittredge for the inspiration he has given to students and collectors 
throughout the country. Years ago Harvard gave John A. Lomax 
a travelling fellowship for the collection of cowboy songs, and has 
given Robert Gordon a similar appointment for research next year. 
Mr. Gordon expects to tour America in a hunt for folk-song of any 
kind available, and his quest will no doubt result in the gathering 
of much that will be of permanent value. The Texas Folk-lore Society 
is a lively and ambitious body, with several admirable volumes to 
its credit. The Virginia branch has collected many ballads, and the 
West Virginia organization has recently seen the results of its efforts 
brought together in John Harrington Cox's book, Folk-Songs of the 
South. The North Carolina Folk-lore Society has made a very large 
collection, and Professor Reed Smith is about to bring out a South 
Carolina collection. In other sections there is interest, but a general 
stimulus is needed if the material is to be collected in time and 
preserved. 

DuBose Heywood tells of the work that the Charleston group is 
doing, in teaching the Negro children their racial songs. The white 
people go to the plantations, where they learn the authentic songs, 
and then teach them orally to the colored children — not writing 
them down at all, for they feel that oral transmission is the true 
method for folk-songs. The Sabbath Glee Club of Richmond, a 
band of colored singers, is doing an excellent work in preserving the 
old songs. Women's clubs throughout the South would do well to 
take up this important work before it is too late. 

Some of the Negro colleges, as Fisk, Hampton, Tuskegee, and 
others, are doing valiant work along this line. Talley, of Fisk, has an 
extremely interesting book, Negro Folk Rhymes, and there are vari- 
ous collections of spirituals. But the possibilities are only touched 
as yet. 

Of late there is awakened interest in Negro problems of education 
and service. Carnegie Hall was packed to the doors one evening 
not long ago with an audience eager to hear the glee clubs of Hamp- 
ton and Tuskegee sing the old songs, and to listen to a plea for sup- 
port to extend the usefulness of these great institutions. 



AFTERWORD 283 

The Negro's interest in the creation of his own literature and 
music is quickening, too. Recently I served as a judge in a short- 
story contest held by the Negro magazine Opportunity for the 
benefit of young Negro writers. About one hundred and twenty-five 
stories were submitted, coming from all parts of the country, many 
of them excellent in material or treatment. Among young Negroes 
of to-day there are capable novelists, poets, short-story writers, 
editors, as well as gifted musicians. Now that they have received 
a chance at technical training, the Negroes — who have produced 
the largest and most significant body of folk-song created in America 
— are writing their own poetry and music of a high order. They are 
genuine poets — " makers." We should encourage their newer art, 
as well as help to preserve the precious folk-songs of the past. 

The songs in this collection have aroused interest among many 
types of people. Europeans, who are closer to folk-art than are 
Americans, have been enthusiastic about them. Zuloaga was so 
pleased with them when he heard Miss Gulledge sing some of them 
one afternoon at my apartment, that he sat down on the piano 
bench beside her to follow them more closely, while Uranga smiled 
his pleasure. Stefannson said of the music, "It's a good show." 

I have given informal talks on my quest for songs before various 
bodies — the Modern Language Association, the Poetry Society of 
America, the Graduate Women's English Club of Columbia Uni- 
versity, the Dixie Club of New York City, the Texas Club of New 
York, and others. The audience is always vastly more interested 
in the songs themselves, as sung by Miss Gulledge, than in my 
report of them, which is as it should be. The songs are the vital 
things. 

My friends and acquaintances recognize that my particular form 
of insanity is on the subject of Negro folk-songs, and so they amiably 
humor my aberrations. Some of them are interested themselves, and 
when we get together we make ballads hum. Not long ago a group 
of us were together in Constance Lindsay Skinner's apartment, dis- 
cussing the topic. Margaret Widdemer and Louise Driscoll had 
sung some of the old English ballads, and I mentioned the Negro's 
part in transmitting the traditional songs. Muna Lee gave me a 
variant of the Hangman's Tree, as sung by the Negroes in Hinds 
County, Mississippi. Her poet-husband, Sefior Louis Marin, laugh- 
ingly contended that she had only one tune, to which she sang all 
the songs she knew. I confess that the tune she used was not the 
traditional one, but the words were in the line of tradition. 



284 AFTERWORD 

Hangman, hangman, wait a while, 

Wait a little while. 
Yonder comes my father — he 

Has travelled many a weary mile. 

"Father, father, did you bring 

The diamond ring to set me free? 
Or did you come to see me hung 
Upon this lonesome tree?" 

"No, no. I did not bring 

The diamond ring to set you free; 
But I come to see you hung 
Upon this lonesome tree." 

The other relatives follow in order, and then the last hope appears. 

"Sweetheart, sweetheart, did you bring," etc. 

"Yes, yes, I did bring 

The diamond ring to set you free. 
I did not come to see you hung 
Upon this lonesome tree." 

Clement Wood (who sings Negro songs delightfully in his lec- 
tures on Negro literature) gave me some fragments. 

Down in de place whar I come from 

Dey feed dose coons on hard-parched cawn; 

Dey swell up an' dey get so fat 

Dat dey could n't get deir heads in a Number Ten hat. 

The chorus to this is the well-known You Shall Be Free. 

Another bit that Mr. Wood gave is about a character that figures 
often in folk-lore, but less often in Negro folk-song: 

Did you ever see de devil 
Wid his hoe and pick and shovel 
Jus' a' scratchin' up de ground 
At his ol' front do'? 

That is from John Wyatt, a Negro peddler, seventy years old, from 
Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. The lines are like some I learned in 
Texas years ago from Dr. John T. Harrington: 

Did you ever see de devil 
Wid his iron wooden shovel 
Tearin' up de yearth 
Wid his big toe-nail? 






AFTERWORD 285 

Professor Kittredge sent me some data about several of the songs, 
too late to include it easily in the earlier chapters, so I list it here. 

He writes of one song, Cree-mo-Cri-mo-Doro-W ah: 

t 

You're quite right as to the "antique nonsense jingle" character of 
this. See evidence in the Journal of American Folk-lore, xxxv, 396 (my 
note on Frog and Mouse). The Waco text ("'way down South") is a 
variety of the minstrel song discussed on page 399 of same volume. 
Copy of one version enclosed : 

Keemo Kimo 1 

Celebrated Banjo Song 

The only Authentic Version, as sung at George Christy and Wood's 
Minstrels. (Copyright secured.) 

In South Carolina the darkies go, 2 

Sing song Kitty, can't you ki me O ! 
Dat's whar de white folks plant de tow, 

Sing (&c.) 
Cover de ground all over wid smoke, 

Sing (&c.) 
And up de darkies' heads dey poke, 

Sing (&c). 

Chorus: — Keemo kimo, dar, Oh whar! 
Wid my hi, my ho, and in come Sally singing 
Sometimes penny winkle, lingtum nipcat 
Sing song Kitty, can't you ki me O! 

Milk in de dairy nine days old, 

Sing (&c.) 
Frogs and de skeeters getting mighty bold, 

Sing (&c.) 
Dey try for to sleep, but it ain't no use, 

Sing (&c.) 
Dey jump all round in de chicken roost, 

Sing (&c.) 

Chorus: — (as before.) 

Dar was a frog liv'd near a pool, 

Sing (&c.) 
Sure he was de biggest fool, 

Sing (&c.) 

1 George Christy & Wood's New Song Book, N. Y., cop. 1854, pp. 7, 8. The same, 
with music, also in sheet form, cop. 1854. 

2 Go is an error for grow. 



286 AFTERWORD 

For he could dance and he could sing, 

Sing (&c.) 
And make de woods around him ring, 

Sing (&c.) 

Chorus: — (as before.) 

Of one of the children's game-songs, Professor Kittredge notes: 

Mr. Banks he loves sugar, etc. A good bit of this song is certainly 
from the white folks. Cf. Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes, ist ed., 1842, p. 11 : 

Over the water, over the lee, 
Over the water to Charley. 
Charley loves good ale and wine, 
Charley loves good brandy, 
Charley loves a little girl 
As sweet as sugar candy. 

There are varieties in plenty. Here is a version which my mother 
(born in Massachusetts in 1822) gave me about 1887 as known to her 
when a girl: 

Charley, will you come out to-night? 

You know we 're always ready. 
When you come in, take off your hat, 
And say, "How do y' do, Miss Betty!" 

Charley loves good cake and wine, 
Charley loves good brandy, 
Charley loves to kiss the girls 
As sweet as sugar candy. 

My aunt (about the same time) gave me a variant of the last two lines 
(known also to my mother) : 

Take your petticoats under your arm 
And cross the river to Charley. 

For another jingle that refers to the Pretender Charley, see Newell, 
Games and Songs, ist ed., no. 121. 

/ Had a Little Rooster is an old white ditty. 

Zaccheus. Cf. the rhyme in the New England Primer: 

Zaccheus he 
Did climb a tree 
His Lord to see. 

This I have often heard quoted by old people in New England. 

Shoo Fly is a minstrel song. I well remember its popularity. 



AFTERWORD 287 

Come, Butter, Come! This is an old English butter charm. See the 
following version from Ady's book, A Candle in the Dark, 1659, p. 58, as 
quoted in Brand's Popular Antiquities, Hazlitt's ed., hi, 268: 

Come Butter, come, 
Come Butter, come, 
Peter stands at the Gate, 
Waiting for a buttered Cake; 
Come Butter, come. 

Ady says that the old woman who recited it said that it was taught to 
her mother "by a learned Church-man in Queen Marie's days!" 

Professor Kittredge tells me that the Creation song, as given by 
Dr. Merle St. Croix Wright, was a famous minstrel piece, and not a 
real folk-song, as was also the case with the Monkeys Wedding and 
Shoo Fly. 

This overlapping of minstrel- and folk-song is a very interesting 
aspect of this study of folk-song. Of course, many pieces thought 
to be authentic folk-songs are undoubtedly of minstrel origin, no 
matter how sincere the collector may be in his belief that they are 
genuine folk-material. On the other hand, may not folk-singing and 
change make a folk-song out of what was originally a minstrel-song? 
And certainly there are cases where the folk-song came first — 
where the folk-song was taken over in whole or in part and adapted 
to the minstrel stage. Jump, Jim Crow was a fragment of folk- 
song and dance before it was put on the stage and made popular as 
a minstrel-song. Casey Jones was a genuine Negro song before it 
became popularized by being changed and published. 'TainH 
Gwine to Rain No Mo 1 was a well-known Negro song, widely sung 
before the printed version brought it to the North. 

Some aspiring scholar might write his doctor's dissertation on the 
inter-relation between folk-song and minstrel-song. That is only one 
of many aspects of the subject which might be carefully studied. 

This has been, in truth, a folk-composition, for I have had the aid 
of numberless people in getting together the songs. For the material 
included in this volume, as well as for that which I have on hand to 
use in later volumes, I am indebted for help of one sort or another, 
direct or indirect, in the matter of information about sources, per- 
mission to quote from other collections (in a few cases), for inspira- 
tion and encouragement, as for words and music, to many persons. 
This research could not possibly have been carried on without such 
kindly assistance, and I am deeply grateful for it. The following is a 
list (I fear incomplete) of those who have aided me: 



288 AFTERWORD 

My heaviest debt of gratitude is to my friend, Ola Lee Gulledge, 
bachelor of music and professional pianist of Texas and New York, 
who has been invaluable in taking down the music and putting it in 
shape. I am under great obligations to Professor George Lyman 
Kittredge, who has read the proof of the book and given me helpful 
information and illuminating advice. I am indebted to Professor 
Ashley H. Thorndike, Professor James C. Egbert, and Professor 
Hyder E. Rollins for encouragement and assistance in the prepara- 
tion of the book. 

Others who have aided me are: Emily Abbott, Reverend and 
Mrs. E. P. Aldredge, Hervey Allen, Irl Allison, Roberta Anderson, 
Professor A. J. Armstrong, W. H. Babcock, Lottie Barnes, Mrs. Tom 
Bartlett, Reverend William E. Barton, Mr. and Mrs. O. Douglas 
Batchelor, Alvin Belden, Professor Frank Boas, Kate Langley 
Bosher, Dr. Boyd, Mary Boyd, Judge W. R. Boyd, Mr. and Mrs. 
W. R. Boyd, Jr., Arelia Brooks, Mary Louise Brown, Mrs. Cam- 
milla Breazeale, Hershell Brickel, Mrs. Buie, Dr. Prince Bur- 
roughs, Early Busby, Jacques Busbee, Juliana Busbee, the late 
George W. Cable, John Caldwell, Mary Stevenson Callcott, Betsy 
Camp, Dr. and Mrs. Charles C. Carroll, Dorothy and Virginia 
Carroll, Mrs. Harvey Carroll, Albert Cassedy, The Century Com- 
pany, Central Texas College, of Waco, Texas, Mabel Crannll, Dr. 
J. B. Crannll, Mrs. Crawford, Robert A. Crump, Irvin Cobb, Mrs. 
Lucian H. Cocke, Mayor Cockrell, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Mrs. 
Cockrell, Miss Isabel Cohen, Lizzie W. Coleman, Professor John 
Harrington Cox, Charley Danne, Loraine Darby, Mrs. Landon Ran- 
dolph Dashiell, Mrs. De La Rose, the late Samuel A. Derieux, Mrs. 
George Deynoodt, Elizabeth Dickinson, Reverend J. G. Dickinson, 
Harris Dickson, Judge Diggs, Mrs. D. M. Diggs 2 the Director of the 
Colored Y. M. C. A. in Fort Worth, Texas, Louis Dodge, Mr. 
Dowd, W. E. Doyle, Mr. and Mrs. Sparke Durham, Harry Stillwell 
Edwards, Garnet Laidlaw Eskew, John Farrar, Jean Feild, Harriet 
Fitts, Virginia Fitzgerald, Betty Foley, Clare Virginia Forrest, 
Maximilian Foster, Maud Fuller, Charles Galloway, Mr. and Mrs. 
Harry Gamble, Louise Garwood, Anne Gilmer, Meta Glass, Mr. 
Robert Gordon, Dorothy Van Doren, Hilton Greer, Lydia Gumbel, 
Louise Haight, Norman W. Harlee, Harper and Bros., Dr. J. T. 
Harrington, Isabel Harris, Will Harris, W. C. Handy, Albert Hart, 
Mrs. Hatchell, Mrs. Cammie G. Henry, Dorothy and DuBose Hey- 
wood, Worth Tuttle Hedden, of New York, Ruth Hibbard, Lucy 
Hicks, Mrs. Esther Finlay Hoevey, Hatcher Hughes, H. B. P. 
Johnson, Betty Jones, W. A. Jones, Professor W. A. Kern, Justin 



AFTERWORD 289 

Kimball, Leslie Lee Lacy, Mrs. J. O. La Rose, Lucy T. Latane, 
Maude Scarborough Latham, H. S. Latham, Louise Laurense, Muna 
Lee, Lippincott's Magazine, John A. Lomax, Thomas A. Long, 
Katherine Love, Esther Mackey, Talmadge Marsh, Sebron Mallard, 
Morton Adams Marshall, George Madden Martin, Mrs. W. D. 
Martin, Dr. F. C. McConnell, Dr. and Mrs. George W. McDaniel, 
Anna Hardaman Meade, Bertha Merion, Professor J. C. Metcalf, 
Mrs. Miller, Lincolnia C. Morgan, Dr. W. F. Moore, John Trotwood 
Moore, James Morrow, Dr. Rosalie Slaughter Morton, Glenn Mul- 
lin, ex-Governor Pat. M. NefT, Caroline Newcomb, William Wells 
Newell, Ella Oatman, Professor Howard W. Odum, Mrs. Clifton 
Oliver, the late Thomas Nelson Page, Josephine Pankey, Paul 
Quinn College, Waco, Texas, Arthur Peavy, Louree Peeples, William 
Alexander Percy, Professor E. C. Perrow, Clara Gottschalk Peter- 
son, Anna Gwinn Pickens, Professor Louise Pound, Louise Clark 
Pyrnelle, Mrs. C. E. Railing, Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Ratcliffe, Dorothy 
Renick, Cale Young Rice, Caroline Richardson, Mrs. M. L. Riddle, 
the late Sally Nelson Robins, Crystal Ross, Lucy Pinckney Rut- 
ledge, Earl Saffold, Frances Sanford, Anne Scarborough, Mr. and 
Mrs. W. B. Scarborough, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Culpepper Scar- 
borough, Dr. Shaw, Mr. Robert Sibley, Mrs. Henry Simpson, the 
late Professor C. Alphonso Smith, Mrs. A. J. Smith, Howard Snyder, 
John Stone, Elizabeth Sullivan, Edwin Swain, Professor and Mrs. 
W. H. Thomas, Mrs. Richard Clough Thompson, Roy W. Tibbs, 
Dr. J. W. Torbett, Drushia Torbett, Gladys Torregano, Joseph A. 
Turner, Worth Tuttle, Lucy Dickinson Urquhart, Lois Upshaw, 
Benjamin Vaughan, Isabel Walker, Emilie Walter, Olive Watkins, 
Shepherd Webb, W. P. Webb, Decca West, Catherine West, Dr. 
Blanche Colton Williams, Marguerite Wilkinson, Evelyn Cary 
Williams, the late J. H. Williams, Louise Williams, Dr. Sidney 
Williams, Professor Wirt Williams, Professor Samuel Worle, Francis 
Gilchrist Wood, Matthew Work, the late Dr. Merle St. Croix 
Wright, the late Dr. John C. Wyeth. 



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